INDIA – Zydus Cadila has agreed to reduce the price of its COVID-19 vaccine to US$3.54 (Rs 265) per dose after persistent negotiations with the government, but a final agreement has yet to be reached.

Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D vaccine is the first to be approved by India’s drug regulator for inoculation of people aged 12 and up.

To administer the needle-free vaccine, a disposable painless jet applicator costs US$1.24 (Rs 93) per dose, bringing the total cost to US$ 4.78 (Rs 358) per dose.

The Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company had previously proposed a price of US$ 25.36 (Rs 1,900) for its three-dose regimen.

The company has brought down the price to Rs 358 (US$ 4.78) for each dose which includes Rs 93, (US$1.74), the cost of a disposable jet applicator, following repeated negotiations by the government…. A final decision in the matter is likely to be taken this week.”

On August 20, the drug regulator granted emergency use authorization to ZyCoV-D, the world’s first DNA-based needle-free COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the government is still awaiting recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) regarding the inclusion of ZyCoV-D in the immunization drive for adults and children with co-morbidities.

The protocol and framework for the introduction of this vaccine into the COV will be provided by NTAGI.

Official sources previously stated that the price of ZyCoV-D would differ from that of Covaxin and Covishield because, in addition to being a three-dose vaccine, it requires the use of a special pharma jet injector.

That pharma jet injector can deliver approximately 20,000 doses. The jet applicator helps the vaccine fluid to penetrate the skin to enter recipient’s cells.

The fact that ZyCoV-D is a needle-free vaccine necessitates the development of a painless jet applicator. The three doses must be administered on days 0, 28, and 56, respectively; the jab must be administered in both arms during each round of vaccination.

The government is currently purchasing two other vaccines for the national COVID-19 immunization program: Covishield at US$2.74 per dose (Rs 205) and Covaxin at US$2.87 per dose (Rs 215).

Covishield, Covaxin, and Sputnik V are only given to people over the age of 18, and, unlike ZyCoV-D, these are two-dose regimens.

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