INDIA – Zydus Cadila indigenously developed needle-free COVID-19 vaccine (ZyCOV-D) has received an emergency use authorization from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) and it will be administered to people aged 12 years and above.

ZyCoV-D is a first-of-its-kind DNA vaccine developed in collaboration with the Department of Biotechnology that produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 to elicit an immune response, which is critical for disease protection and viral clearance.

As an intradermal vaccine, it must be applied with a ‘needle-free injector,’ according to the manufacturer, which will help reduce side effects.

The three-dose ZyCoV-D became the country’s first vaccine to be administered to those in the age bracket of 12-18 years. It has to be administered in a gap of 28 days between each dose.

“The vaccine will not be available in the market but it will be very shortly included in the government’s national covid-19 program. We are in conversation with the manufacturer for its roll out. Since it is a three-dose vaccine and needs a needle free injecting system, it will have a differential pricing in comparison to other available covid-19 vaccines,” said union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

Under its Covid-19 mass immunization program, India is currently administering vaccines developed by Covishield manufactured by Oxford AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, and Sputnik V by Russia.

The vaccine has not yet been released into the market pending commercial price determination but it will be part of India’s vaccine drive at the earliest opportune time.

As far as the price of ZyCoV-D vaccine is at which it will be procured is concerned, the health ministry is in a conversation with the manufacturers.

Though the ministry has intimated that the vaccine will have a different pricing system from he existing ones in India based on its three-dose regimen and needle-less delivery system.

The government also said that a quarter of India’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against covid-19, as the nation’s cumulative covid-19 vaccination coverage hits 890 million.

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya’s office tweeted, “India’s persistence & determination is creating ripples across the global vaccination campaign. 1/4th of the eligible population, a phenomenal 237 million (23.7 crore) people, is fully vaccinated against #COVID19.” (Emphasis added).

On booster dose for Covid-19, Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that the priority is to get the entire eligible population of the country vaccinated fully.

The call of the hour is to give the two-dose vaccination/full vaccination covering the entire adult population. The talk of booster dose is not pertinent at the moment,” he added.

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