India approves first Covid vax for children; Here’s what makes Zydus Cadila vaccine unique

by Joseph K. Clark

An additional advantage of the Zydus Cadila vaccine is that it is needle-free and thereby reduces body pain and other side effects experienced with other vaccines.

Covid-19 vaccine updates: In a crucial development in India’s fight against Coronavirus, Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine has got emergency use approval for use among adults and children above 12 years of age. The Drug Controller General of India has granted emergency use approval to the three-dose Covid-19 vaccine among children. While India’s vaccination program is going steadily on the bank of three already approved Covid-19 vaccines, Zydus Cadila’s vaccine is the first vaccine approved for use in children aged 12+ years. Given the looming threat of the third wave of Coronavirus, many health experts have expressed apprehensions that children might become the principal target in the third wave since they constitute the largest unvaccinated group in the country.

With the approval given to Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, the government is now armed with a measure to control the spread of the disease among children. The vaccine, produced on a plasmid DNA platform, was jointly developed by the pharma major and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, and is to be administered in three doses on the 0, 28th, and 56th day. While other vaccine makers have also sought emergency use approval of their vaccines among children, Zydus Cadila became the first to be granted the same as it had begun clinical trials on children before any other manufacturer. In phase 3 clinical trials, the efficacy of the Zydus Cadila vaccine in preventing the occurrence of Coronavirus was found to be 66.66 percent.

When will the Centre start vaccinating children?

While the vaccine has been approved for emergency use among children, it is up to the central government to decide when and how to begin the vaccination drive among children. Whether the vaccination drive will be rolled out among children is a question that assumes significance as Coronavirus cases are consistently coming down in the last few weeks. Top government sources told The Indian Express that the Zydus Cadila vaccine would likely arrive in the markets by October.

Covid vax

What makes the Zydus Cadila vaccine unique?

The vaccine, ZyCoV-D, has been developed using the DNA plasmid vector that carries the gene encoding the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. When the vaccine is administered to the human cell, it enters the cell’s nucleus and produces spikes of protein, resulting in the human body releasing a lot of antibodies. The company has also claimed that the technology used in developing the vaccine is ideally suited against the threat of Coronavirus as it can quickly be evolved in tune with the emergence of new virus variants.

An additional advantage of the Zydus Cadila vaccine is that it is needle-free and thereby reduces body pain and other side effects experienced with other vaccines. Suited to the conditions of developing economies and tropical region countries like India, the vaccine also does not need ultra-cold storage. It can comfortably be stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.

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