Refocusing revolutionary device for COVID-19 vaccines
The Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas at Austin (ATI) is pleased to announce Vaccine Systems, LLC as the newest addition to its Healthcare portfolio. Vaccine Systems’ mission is to help safely vaccinate more people more rapidly. Their technology is focused on making the job of vaccine preparation easier and faster, leading to reduced wastage, fewer labor hours, enhanced safety checks, and saving lives.
Vaccine Administration is Key to Ensuring Optimal Safety and Effectiveness
Wastage of lyophilized vaccine has challenged caregivers for years. Accuracy, labor intensity, slow processing, and wastage are known problems with lyophilized (freeze dried) vaccines. Essential vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, shingles, yellow fever, meningitis, and malaria are all lyophilized, shipping as either a powder or a pill to be carefully mixed with a liquid before injection.
Lyophilized vaccines must be reconstituted (mixed) by hand at the point of care, sometimes with vaccine expiring within 30 minutes of mixing due to sensitivity to temperature (e.g., some require subzero storage), sensitivity to light, and over agitation during reconstitution. “In mass vaccination campaigns, manual preparation of large quantities of vaccine in advance is a must which inevitably runs the risk of a large amount of vaccine expiring before it can be used – a big factor in the enormous wastage numbers,” said Bob LiVolsi, CEO of Vaccine Systems. “We learned from front line vaccinators who have run humanitarian campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere that these issues have been faced again and again without an available solution.”
Revolutionary Device for COVID-19 Vaccines
With the advent of COVID-19, Vaccine Systems recognized that their Automated Vaccine Reconstitution System (AVRS) could be refocused to help increase COVID-19 vaccine doses available and speed up vaccination campaigns. Many of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates are or will be lyophilized. An example, the Pfizer vaccine, a leading candidate currently in Phase 3 trials, is a freeze-dried (lyophilized) vaccine that needs to be mixed at the time of injection.
According to Lance Adams, COO of Vaccine Systems, “AVRS reconstitutes vaccine up to 20x faster. This increased speed allows lyophilized vaccines to be mixed so rapidly that preparation can be done as the vaccine is needed, i.e., ‘just-in-time’.” This results in elimination of wastage from pre-mixed vaccines degradation; significant reduction of labor for manual vaccine preparation; and shortened patient wait times which ensures increased patient vaccine administration. The AVRS system also ensures that the diluent mixed with the vaccine is the correct one and agitates the mixture just enough to ensure proper reconstitution without damage to the vaccine. In this way, safety is improved, and efficacy is not impaired as can happen during manual mixing.
The consequences of an error in vaccine preparation can be illustrated by an example from American Samoa in 2018. Children died because the wrong diluent was inadvertently mixed with an MMR vaccine. The subsequent public reaction led to a loss of confidence in vaccination, a 50% reduction in the vaccination rate, and a deadly measles epidemic in 2019.
LiVolsi added, “The healthcare workers that do the actual vaccinating are critical to effective and safe vaccination. Vaccine Systems’ technology, while mitigating the challenges of vaccine wastage and mixing accuracy, also makes the job much easier for nurses, pharmacists and others on the front line. The AVRS automates the most cumbersome steps in preparing vaccines in the field and clinic, which reduces field training requirements, diminishes human error, and offers faster reconstitution for ‘just-in-time’ vaccines, decreasing expired vaccine and vaccine outages.
Global Impact with Vaccine Waste Reduction and Simplified Vaccine Prep
Vaccine Systems helps caregivers increase the number of essential vaccinations given and makes the process much easier at the point of care. Increased numbers of vaccinations can prevent illness, save lives, and have long lasting economic impact. According to LiVolsi, “Globally, reduced vaccine wastage and simplified vaccine prep can save billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of labor hours.”
Vaccine Systems : ATI Relationship
Bob LiVolsi said, “Joining the Austin Technology Incubator is both an honor and a great opportunity to leverage the University of Texas community and benefit from the expanded resources available through ATI’s recently announced Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium. Lisa McDonald and the team there are thoughtful, supportive and extremely helpful in helping us find a path to key resources in building our long-term strategy.”
As a member of the Austin Technology Incubator, Vaccine Systems will be able to leverage ATI’s strategic relationships, extensive network of expert mentors and funding sources. “We are excited to welcome the Vaccine Systems team to ATI and the Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium. We look forward to supporting their mission to innovate and commercialize advanced new technology focused on saving lives at the point of care with increased numbers of vaccinations with long lasting economic impact” said Lisa McDonald MD, MSTC, Director of Healthcare at the Austin Technology Incubator.
About Vaccine Systems, LLC
Vaccine Systems, LLC, was formed in 2018 to bring important technology to vaccination campaigns around the world. Originally, Vaccine Systems was focused on humanitarian campaigns for measles, varicella, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and others. Vaccine Systems’ technology was re-focused with the advent of COVID-19, recognizing that the Automated Vaccine Reconstitution System could help increase doses available and speed up COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. An Austin-based company, Vaccine Systems’ founders have successful experience as executives in both the Fortune 25 and early stage companies, including multiple successful exits through M&A and IPO. Vaccine Systems is also a founding innovator of the Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium (TEXGHS). For more information, please visit www.vaccinesystems.com.