India approves needle-free DNA Vaccine

The Indian Government has authorized a needle-free COVID-19 vaccine developed by an indigenous pharmaceutical company.

The vaccine was developed by Zydus Cadila. Unlike Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which are based on using mRNA to train the immune system to combat the coronavirus, The Zydus vaccine, called ZyCoV-D, uses a DNA-based technology that uses the genetic code of certain viral proteins to similarly train the immune system. It is the first COVID vaccine of its kind to get authorization from a Government health agency.

ZyCoV-D’s doses are made up of a ‘plasmid DNA’, a small piece of circular DNA naturally found in bacteria. It has the SARS-COV-2’s genetic material, responsible for producing its spike protein, integrated into it. When injected, it elicits an immune response.

It is also the first vaccine to receive authorization in India for adolescents in the age group 12-18 age group. “We are particularly happy that our vaccine will contribute to this fight against COVID-19 and enable the country to vaccinate a larger population especially in the age group of 12-18 years,” Pankaj Patel, chairman of Cadila Healthcare Ltd. said.

The company had applied for authorization in July, based on its data which showed 66.6% efficacy for symptomatic Covid cases. It also said that the vaccines worked against the Delta variant, though it is yet to release its full phase 3 clinical trial data.

Another interesting aspect of Zydus’ vaccine is that it does not require a needle. Instead, the vaccine is delivered intradermally over a period of 56 days. It uses a needle free system called Tropis, which was developed by a Colorado-based company called Pharma Jet. Its technology uses a high velocity fluid jet that penetrates the skin to deliver the vaccine.

Zydus Cadila announced that it would start manufacturing 10 million doses by October. Fewer than 10% of Indians are currently vaccinated, however the Government is trying to ramp up the vaccination rates by five times. If the vaccination rates don’t improve, it could lead to nearly 0.6 million cases a day in the third wave, according to a report by the government’s National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM). (Forbes)

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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