Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
Shingles isn’t a life-threatening condition, but it can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles. Early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, which causes shingles pain for a long time after your blisters have cleared.
Technologies in development for delivering vaccines include Enesi’s dissolving implants, microneedle patches, electrical-pulse systems, nasal sprays and even pills.
Some firms are developing their own vaccines against Covid-19, while others are aiming to reformulate some of the dozens already in development or being rolled out world-wide. Some are sitting this pandemic out in the hope of being ready for the next one.
All are in the early to mid-stages of development and clinical testing, suggesting it might be months if not years before they come to market. Big pharmaceutical companies have so far shown limited interest.
Currently, smartwatches provide information such as heart rate, sleep time and activity patterns. In the future, this could be augmented with new classes of wearable devices that monitor, for example, concentrations of cortisol for tracking stress (using electronic epidermal tattoos), biomarkers of inflammation and levels of blood O2 (microneedle patches), skin temperature (electronic textiles), blood pressure (smart rings), concentration of ions (wristbands), intraocular pressure (smart contact lenses), the presence of airborne pathogens and breathing anomalies (face masks), and the concentration of therapeutic drugs (on-teeth sensors)2,10,12,13,14,15,16. Such emerging low-cost wearable sensing technologies, monitoring both physical parameters and biochemical markers, could be used to identify symptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases in future pandemics. The devices could also be used to remotely monitor the recovery of individuals undergoing treatment or self-isolating at home.