Covid-19: What is the Zydus Cadila’s new DNA nasal vaccine?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday in his address to the nation announced that the world’s first DNA vaccine against COVID-19 will be soon available for inoculation. This three-dose nasal vaccine by Zydus Cadila comes at a crucial time when the world is witnessing a sharp rise of the Omicron variant.

This nasal vaccine, ZyCov-D, will be administered through the nose with the help of a needle-free applicator called “PharmaJet.” It can generate an immune response within respiratory passages starting from nasal airways and blocks both infection and transmission of COVID-19.

Compared to traditional syringes, a needle-free applicator ensures painless intradermal vaccine delivery which also helps in mitigating major side effects other vaccines have. The three doses of ZyCoV-D are to be administered 28 days apart.

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Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation, said that this new nasal vaccine can be a ‘game-changer’ for children as they are easy to administer and also gives local immunity to the respiratory tract.

Zydus Cadila will supply one crore doses of the vaccine to the Government of India at ₹265 per dose and the needle-free applicator will be charged at ₹93 per dose, excluding GST.

Apart from Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) is also developing a BBV154 nasal vaccine for children. The organization has applied for a regulatory nod to conduct phase 3 trials post which Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine can also be used as a booster shot for those vaccinated with Covishield and Covaxin.

The announcement for the nasal vaccine comes amid three major decisions to boost the vaccination drive including the start of vaccination for children in the 15-18 age group from coming January 3 and availability of booster dose from January 10 for health care staff, frontline workers and citizens above the age of 60 with comorbidities on the advice of their doctor.

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