A trial has begun of a new needle-free Covid-19 vaccine to protect against future variants of the virus.
The vaccine, administered through a jet of air, has been developed by Prof Jonathan Heeney of Cambridge University and chief executive of DIOSynVax.
Participants, aged between 18 and 50 years old, will take part at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility.
Prof Heeney said: “As new variants emerge and immunity begins to wane we need newer technologies.”
The vaccine, DIOS-CoVax, uses different technology to fight the disease which could provide much broader protection against Covid variants and other coronaviruses, he said.
“It’s vital that we continue to develop new generation vaccine candidates ready to help keep us safe from the next virus threats,” he added.
“It is the first step towards a universal coronavirus vaccine we are developing, protecting us not just from Covid-19 variants but from future coronaviruses.”
Current Covid-19 vaccines use genes taken from the virus spike protein to encode antigens, which causes the immune system to produce antibodies.
This new vaccine uses predictive methods to mimic the wider family of coronavirus antigens that researchers hope will give more protection.
A spring-powered jet injection delivers it into the skin, offering an alternative to those who have a fear of needle-based injections.
Prof Saul Faust, director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, said: “This isn’t simply ‘yet another’ coronavirus vaccine, as it has both Covid-19 variants and future coronaviruses in its sights.
“This technology could give wide-ranging protection to huge numbers of people worldwide.”
He said people in Southampton and Hampshire “stepped up time and again to help find the vaccines”, with the facility at Southampton General Hospital previously trialling the Janssen jab.
“We’re asking for their help again in developing this potentially game-changing vaccine,” Prof Faust added.
Volunteers from the area are being sought for the trial and need to have had their first two Covid-19 vaccines jabs, but not their booster.