INDIA – Indian drugmaker Zydus Cadila has proposed pricing for its three-dose Covid-19 vaccine ZyCov-D jab that can be given to those above 12 years of age at US$ 25.6 (Rs 1,900), inclusive of taxes.

However, the central government is negotiating a price reduction, with a final decision expected this week.

Negotiations are still underway and the firm has been urged to examine all aspects of the vaccine’s pricing. A final decision on the vaccine’s pricing is expected this week.

ZyCoV-D is expected to be priced differently from Covaxin and Covishield because, in addition to being a three-dose vaccine, it necessitates the use of a needle-free jet injector, which costs US$ 403.84 (Rs 30,000).

Also, the government has announced that the indigenously produced, world’s first DNA-based needle-free COVID-19 vaccine will be included in the countrywide anti-coronavirus immunization drive in the near future.

The vaccine, according to Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, will be priced differently than current jabs, and pricing negotiations are underway with the manufacturer.

Since this is a three-dose vaccine and comes with a needle-less delivery system, it would have a differential pricing than the existing vaccines which are being used in the Covid vaccination program,” he said.

ZyCoV-D is the only one approved for children in India and the union health ministry has strongly recommended its introduction in the inoculation drive prioritizing beneficiaries focusing on those persons aged 12 years and above with underlying conditions.

The vaccine is to be administered thrice within a period of 8 weeks on days zero, 28, and 56. The vaccine received an Emergency Use Authorization from the drug regulator making it the first vaccine to be administered to children aged 12 to 18 years besides adults.

India has been administering Covishield, Covaxin, and Sputnik V vaccines, which are only recommended for people aged 18 years and unlike ZyCoV-D, these vaccines are administered twice for complete inoculation.

The Indian Ministry of Health is waiting for recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), which will provide the protocol and framework for the introduction of ZyCoV-D in the immunization drive.

ZyCoV-D is a plasmid DNA vaccine that encodes the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and elicits an immune response mediated by the human immune system’s cellular (T lymphocyte immunity) and humoral (antibody-mediated immunity).

The vaccine has a 66.6 percent efficacy against symptomatic Covid cases and a 100 percent efficacy against moderate disease.

It is a needle-free vaccine that is administered with the Pharma Jet, a needle-free applicator called Tropis that ensures painless intradermal vaccine delivery.

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