Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D to be introduced in Covid vaccination drive soon, says Centre

The government on Thursday said that Zydus Cadila’s needle-free Covid-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D will be introduced into the nationwide vaccination drive very soon and will be priced differently than the jabs being used currently.

Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the government is in talks with the manufacturer regarding the pricing of the vaccine. The differentiation in pricing is largely because it is a three-dose vaccine with a needleless delivery system, he added.

“As far as the price of the vaccine at which it will be procured is concerned, we are in conversations with the manufacturer. Since it is a three-dose vaccine and comes with a needleless delivery system, it would have a differential pricing than the existing vaccines that are being used in the Covid vaccination programme,” Bhushan was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

ZyCoV-D is the first DNA plasmid vaccine in the world for human use, developed indigenously by the company against the Covid-19 virus. It received the Emergency Use Authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on August 20 and can be administered to people aged 12 years and above.

Presently, Covishield, Covaxin, and Sputnik V vaccines are being given to only those above 18 years of age and unlike ZyCoV-D, these are administered in two doses.

ZyCov-D is a “plasmid DNA” vaccine — or a vaccine that uses a genetically engineered, non-replicating version of a type of DNA molecule known as a ‘plasmid’.

The plasmids in this case are coded with the instructions to make the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Vaccination gives the code to cells in the recipient’s body, so they can begin making the spiky outer layer of the virus. The immune system is expected to recognize this as a threat and develop antibodies in response.

Zydus also claims that its technology is “ideally” suited for tackling Covid-19 as it can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus, such as those already occurring.

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