Govt expert group may recommend inclusion of ZyCoV-D in India vaccination drive

The Centre could introduce the three-dose vaccine in a phased manner, with children with specified comorbidities receiving priority because they have the additional risk of severe infection.
A medical worker vaccinates a woman against Covid-19, in Amritsar. (Sameer Sehgal /HT)
A medical worker vaccinates a woman against Covid-19, in Amritsar. (Sameer Sehgal /HT)
Updated on Sep 27, 2021 05:10 AM IST
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By Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

ZyCoV-D, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Zydus Cadila in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology, is likely to be included in the national immunisation programme as a government expert group is expected to recommend its inclusion next week, said an official aware of the matter. The Zydus Cadila vaccine would expand India’s vaccination programme to those aged 12 years and above.

“The deliberations are nearing conclusion and by next week or so the government should receive their recommendations on the matter,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “It seems that the expert group is in favour of including children in the list of eligible beneficiaries for Covid-19 vaccination.”

The Centre could introduce the three-dose vaccine in a phased manner, with children with specified comorbidities receiving priority because they have the additional risk of severe infection.

“Eventually, we will have to vaccinate all children and not just those at risk because children can bring the infection home and expose those members who are at high risk, especially the elderly and sick in the family,” said Dr JS Bhasin, director and head, department of paediatrics, BLK Hospital, New Delhi.

The issue of pricing the product is also being considered said the official cited earlier. Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, had mentioned pricing is an issue in a press briefing last week.

“The price is also a clear issue. Talks are going on and a decision will soon be taken. With full preparation, it will become a part of the country’s national vaccination programme,” Dr Paul had said. “We are looking forward to receiving recommendations of the NTAGI on the beneficiary or target group to which the vaccine has to be given.”

On August 20, VG Somani, Drugs Controller General of India, approved the Zydus Cadila vaccine for emergency use. ZyCoV-D, the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine for Covid-19, is administered in three doses on Day zero, Day 28, and Day 56.

The government expects around 10 million vaccine doses from the company.

Currently, six vaccines have been approved for emergency use by India’s drugs regulator. ZyCoV-D is the only one that can be given to children aged 12 and above.

Another vaccine being tested in children is Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, and according to its developers, the phase 3 clinical trial is almost over. The results will soon be submitted to the drugs regulator to seek emergency use approval, the company has said.

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Monday, October 25, 2021