COVID-19 vaccines and nanomedicine

Int J Dermatol. 2021 Sep;60(9):1047-1052. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15673. Epub 2021 Jun 5.


Background: The COVID-19 virus-induced pandemic has been the deadliest pandemic to have occurred in two generations, besides HIV/AIDS. Epidemiologists predicted that the SARS-Cov 2 pandemic would not be able to be brought under control until a majority of the world's population had been inoculated with safe and effective vaccines. A world-wide effort to expedite vaccine development was successful. Previous research for vaccines to prevent SARS and MERS, also coronaviruses, was vital to this success. Nanotechnology was essential to this vaccine development. Key elements are presented here to better understand the relationship between nanomedicine and the COVID-19 vaccine development.

Methods: NLM PubMed searches for COVID-19 vaccines, nanotechnology and nanomedicine were done. There were 6911 articles screened, 235 of which were deemed appropriate to this subject and utilized here, together with two landmark nanomedicine texts used to expand understanding of the basic science of nanotechnology.

Results: SARS-Cov 2, caused by the COVID-19 virus, was first recognized in China in December of 2019 and was declared as a pandemic in March of 2020. The RNA sequence was identified in January of 2020. Within 4 months of the viral genome being released, over 259 vaccines had been in development. The World Health Organization (WHO) anticipated a vaccine with a 50-80% efficacy to be developed within 1-2 years. Ahead of schedule, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the emergency authorization approval for two mRNA vaccines within 11 month's time. Nanotechnology was the key to the success of these rapidly developed, safe and effective vaccines. A brief review of pertinent basic science principles of nanomedicine are presented. The development of COVID vaccines is reviewed. Future considerations are discussed.

Conclusions: Control of the COVID-19 SARS-Cov2 pandemic benefitted from nanomedicine principles used to develop highly effective, yet very safe and relatively inexpensive vaccines. These nanovaccines can be much more easily altered to adjust for viral variants than traditional live or inactivated legacy-type whole virus vaccines.

Keywords: COVID-19; basic science of dermatology; pandemic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Nanomedicine*
  • RNA, Viral
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States
  • Vaccines, Inactivated


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • RNA, Viral
  • Vaccines, Inactivated