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UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Scientists Announce Potential Vaccine

Scientists at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have announced a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

When tested in mice, the vaccine produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be enough to neutralize the virus.

The vaccine is delivered through a fingertip-sized skin patch. The research team calls this vaccine PittCoVacc, short for Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine.

A paper on the vaccine appeared April 2 in EBioMedicine, which is published by The Lancet. It is the first study on a potential COVID-19 vaccine to be published after a critique from fellow scientists at outside institutions.

PittCoVacc is still in testing phases. UPMC hospitals are now administering COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to frontline health care workers. Vaccinations will expand to the general population in the months ahead. Pfizer and Moderna both received emergency use authorizations for their vaccines from the Food and Drug Administration in December 2020. Visit our COVID-19 vaccination hub for more information.

UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers were able to act quickly because they laid the groundwork during earlier coronavirus epidemics.

Scientists also use a new approach to deliver the drug, called a microneedle array, to increase potency. This array is a fingertip-sized patch of 400 tiny needles that deliver spike protein pieces into the skin, where the immune reaction is the strongest.

The patch goes on like a Band-Aid, and the needles, which are made entirely of sugar and protein pieces, simply dissolve into the skin.

Read more about this breakthrough.

Requests to Participate in Vaccine Trials

With the recent media coverage of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh's research into a vaccine for COVID-19, we receive many requests to participate in COVID-19 related trials. Please send all requests to for consideration.