Zydus vaccine for kids likely to be available by Oct, says Centre
Zydus Cadila’s anti Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, ZyCov-D, the first approved for use on people as young as 12 in the country , is likely to be available by the first week of October, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said during a briefing by the health ministry on Thursday.
It still isn’t clear whether the vaccine will form part of the country’s ongoing drive to vaccinate all adults by the end of the year, or be reserved for the use of children. Currently, only those over the age of 18 years are eligible for vaccines in India. Responding to reports that the children with co-morbidities that made them more vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid, Bhushan said this was an issue on which “the standing committee on Covid of NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) makes a recommendation to the full NTAGI”.
With a 10-million a month capacity by October (CHECK), the Zydus vaccine will add to overall supply of the jabs in India , albeit to a small extent. In an analysis published on Wednesday, HT pointed out that the country needs to deliver 10 million shots a day between now and the end of the year to meet its target of vaccinating all adults.
On August 20, India’s drugs regulator approved the Zydus Cadila vaccine for emergency use. ZyCoV-D, the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine for Covid-19, is a three-dose vaccine which will be administered on Day zero, Day 28, and Day 56.
Bhushan, however, said it was too early to comment on whether the vaccine will be allowed for all children in one go or for those children that suffer from comorbidities.
Vaccinating children could help the re-opening of schools. Although research has shown that a high level of coverage among adults also reduces infections among children, India is nowhere close to that. Till Thursday, around 50% of the eligible adults in the country had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Experts said that , however, say, if supplies are short then it makes sense to first vaccine children with comorbidities.
“Eventually we will have to vaccine 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.
The vaccine was approved by the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) after its experts assessed results from the company’s phase III clinical trials that showed the vaccine to have an efficacy of 66.6%.
The vaccine is delivered via a “painless” intradermal applicator, making it essentially a needle-free vaccine.
DNA vaccines stimulate both the humoral and cellular arms of the adaptive immune system according to experts.
The vaccine was developed in partnership with the government’s Department of Biotechnology under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’, which involved the pooling of resources by several Indian research institutions for development and clinical trials.
After receiving the approval, the company announced that it is already stockpiling vaccine doses, and is likely to produce 10 million vaccine doses a month by October.
The company also plans to seek approval for a two-dose regimen of the vaccine separately, it announced.
The Zydus vaccine is the sixth approved in India for emergency use.