New Delhi: India’s drug regulator recently approved Zydus Cadila’s three-dose COVID-19 DNA vaccine for emergency use in adults and children aged 12 years and above, bringing in the sixth vaccine authorised for use in the country. The generic drugmaker, listed as Cadila Healthcare Ltd, applied for the authorisation of ZyCoV-D on July 1, based on an efficacy rate of 66.6 per cent in a late-stage trial of over 28,000 volunteers nationwide.
ZyCoV-D is the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine against the coronavirus. It uses a section of genetic material from the virus that gives instructions as either DNA or RNA to make the specific protein that the immune system recognises and responds to. It is a three-dose specialised needle-free vaccine, given in the interval of 4 weeks between each dose.
To know more details about the vaccine, NDTV speaks with Dr Sharvil Patel, Managing Director of Zydus Group.
Highlighting the many firsts of the vaccine, Dr Sharvil Patel said,
We had few things in mind before we kickstarted this journey. We needed a platform that can be rapidly adapted to new strains or variants. Secondly, we wanted to make sure that the safety profile is good as we wanted to give it to large number of people, so it was of paramount interest. So, slowly we began trails, phase wise phase on the population.
Talking about the vaccine and how it can even tackle vaccine hesitancy in many, Dr Sharvil Patel added,
So, this is the first dose which will be given without needle. A lot of vaccine hesitancy is due to the fear of the needle, this removes that worry.
Further talking about, how it got the emergency approval from the drug regulator body, Dr Sharvil Patel said,
Looking at things like the safety profile of the vaccine as it doesn’t have any vector-based immunity, it can be given without the needle and it can rapidly update itself to the new variant, India’s drug regulator was able to give us the emergency approval. In all our earlier trials, we had seen very minimal or no safety signals that were very worrisome. During the trials, we realised that the jab may be safe for children as well and that’s why we moved ahead and consciously created a group of 1000 plus children aged 12-18 years.
Talking about the supply and pricing part, Dr Sharvil Patel added that currently they don’t have the capacity to supply the vaccine to every individual in the country, but for the time being, the company is looking at providing one crore doses a month. He said,
Before the vaccine is available in the market, the company has to undergo various things like a sterility test, audits. If all goes well, the doses can be available by September and full scale up by mid or end of October. For now, nothing has been decided on pricing bit.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.