How effective is ZyCoV-D, the vaccine for adolescents? All about the needle-free, three-dose vaccine

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All the worried parents can now heave a sigh of relief as ZyCoV-D, the first vaccine to be administered to adolescents has got a green signal from Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). While the vaccine will soon be available, it is natural for parents to have some queries in mind regarding the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine.

ZyCov-D first of all is a three-dose vaccine and its second and third doses are to be taken 28 and 56 days respectively after the first one. This is also the first Covid-19 vaccine developed on a plasmid DNA platform to be commercially introduced anywhere in the world and can be administered using a needle-free injection.

Dr Asmita Mahajan, Consultant Neonatologist & Pediatrician, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim & Dr Gurudutt Bhat, Consultant Paediatrics, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan talk about the safety, efficacy and other features of the vaccine in detail.

What is a DNA-plasmid vaccine?

A DNA-plasmid vaccine is a relatively new approach where a piece of DNA containing the genes for the antigens is injected. The body as a result learns to develop an immune response against the antigen, and when the pathogen attacks, the body can then generate the specific antibodies against Covid-19. Most active vaccines are made from a killed or weakened form of the infectious agent.

ALSO READ: Covid-19: Vaccination for kids likely to begin next month, says health minister Mandaviya

But is it effective?

The vaccine is the first to be tested on adolescent population – 12-18 year age group – in India and shows the efficacy of 66.66% in phase 3 clinical trials. It remains stable in room temperatures for three months. The DNA-based vaccines are also more economical than the regular vaccines as they do not require ultra-cold storage systems. The Zydus Cadila vaccine developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology also claims that its technology is ideal for tackling Covid-19 effectively as it can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus.

It said this vaccine works against the Delta variant as the trials have been carried out in more than 50 clinical sites spread across the country, and during the peak of the second wave of Covid-19, have shown the vaccine’s efficacy against the new mutant strains, especially the Delta variant.

Is it safe?

According to the data collected during this trial, this vaccine had already exhibited robust immunogenicity, tolerability and safety profile in the adaptive Phase I/II clinical trials carried out earlier. Both the Phase 1/2 and Phase 3 clinical trials have been monitored by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB).

While the vaccine surely brings good news for parents and children, till it is launched, one must continue to follow Covid-19 safety measures.

(With inputs from Dr Asmita Mahajan, Consultant Neonatologist & Pediatrician, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim & Dr Gurudutt Bhat, Consultant Paediatrics, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan)



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