Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will soon begin administration of the world’s first DNA vaccine against COVID-19.
“Administration of nasal vaccine and world’s first DNA vaccine against COVID will soon start in India,” the prime minister said addressing the nation on December 25.
ZyCoV-D is the first DNA plasmid COVID-19 vaccine in the world for human use, developed indigenously by Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila.
Here’s all you need to know about the world’s first DNA vaccine against COVID-19:
Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D is the first COVID-19 vaccine that received a nod from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for emergency use on those below 18 years. The DNA vaccine can be administered to those aged 12 years and above.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The Phase-III clinical trials were conducted on over 28,000 volunteers in more than 50 clinical sites across the country during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19.
Interim results from Phase-III clinical trials showed primary efficacy of 66.6 percent for symptomatic RT-PCR positive cases, the company had said earlier.
Called plasmid DNA, the vaccine consists of genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 proteins, which instruct human cells to make the SARS-CoV2 antigen, eliciting an immune response.
ZyCov-D is a needle-free three-dose vaccine. The three doses of the jab are to be administered 28 days apart.
Instead of traditional syringes, the vaccine will be administered using an applicator called PharmaJet.
The PharmaJet is a needle-free applicator to ensure painless intradermal (between the layers of the skin) vaccine delivery which also leads to a significant reduction in any kind of major side effects.
The firm said that ZyCov-D has shown good stability at temperatures of around 25 degrees for at least three months.
According to the price break-up, a single dose of the vaccine will be made available to the Centre at Rs 376 which includes the cost of the jet applicator and GST, taking the price of the three-dose jab to Rs 1,128.
The vaccine maker is also in the process of evaluating a two-dose regimen using 3 mg/dose.