Govt. orders one crore doses of Zydus vaccine
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Govt. orders one crore doses of Zydus vaccine

November 8, 2021

Needle-free vaccine to be available in November; Deliberations on to decide its use among children

New Delhi: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted officials to scale up door-to-door COVID vaccination to achieve full adult inoculation target by the year-end, the Health Ministry has ordered one crore doses of the world’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA-based shot ‘ZyCOV-D’ developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila.

The order was placed after the pharma firm said it could deliver one crore shots a month. Sources said the inclusion of ‘ZyCOV-D’ in India’s inoculation programme, alongside Covaxin and Covishield, would help expand the vaccination drive with 77 percent adults having received the first dose, but the second dose coverage hovering below 35 percent.

Sources said the Government had negotiated the purchase order at Rs. 358 a dose for the three-dose regime. The cost of each dose is non-inclusive of taxes, but it covers the cost of a needleless applicator that would be used to administer the three shots at a difference of 28 days each. ZyCOV-D is a needleless vaccine.

Ministry sources said the shot would be delivered to adults first in the spirit of scientific priority. ‘ZyCOV-D’ is the first shot Indian regulator approved for use in children and persons aged 12 and above.

Zydus Cadila is in a position to provide one crore doses of ‘ZyCoV-D’ per month, company officials are learnt to have conveyed to the Ministry. For administering to adults, frontline workers and vaccinators will be provided a brief training for using the needle-free pharma jet application in actual field settings.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the apex body that guides Indian vaccination policy, is, however, yet to take a call on vaccination of children with the WHO guidance on the matter pending too.

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As for the emergency use approval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in the 2 to 18 years age group by the Drugs Controller General of India, it is under expert opinion and evaluation, official sources said.

The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drug Authority on October 12 had recommended granting emergency use authorisation to Covaxin for children and adolescents in the 2 to 18 years age group with certain conditions. At present, every citizen, who is 18 years or above, is eligible for the vaccination drive.

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