The Union Health Ministry is learnt to have given the go-ahead to initiate the preparatory work for the introduction of the indigenously developed world’s first DNA-based Covid jab, which in all probability will be given to adults initially under the country’s vaccination drive, sources in the know of developments said.
Zydus Cadila has agreed to bring down the price of its COVID-19 vaccine to ₹ 265 a dose following persistent negotiations by the government.
Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D is the first vaccine cleared by India’s drug regulator for inoculation of those aged 12 years and above.
To administer the needle-free vaccine, a disposable painless jet applicator costing ₹ 93 is required for each dose, which would take the price to ₹ 358 per dose.
The Ahmedabad-based pharma company earlier had proposed a price of ₹ 1,900 for its three-dose regimen, sources said.
“The company has brought down the price to ₹ 358 for each dose which includes ₹ 93, the cost of a disposable jet applicator, following repeated negotiations by the government,” a source in the know of developments told news agency PTI.
The three doses are to be administered 28 days apart, with each dose comprising a shot in both arms.
The indigenously developed world’s first DNA-based needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D received emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator on August 20.
“We are happy to support the Government’s vaccination programme with ZyCoV-D. The needle-free application of the vaccination, we hope, will motivate many more to vaccinate and safeguard themselves from COVID-19, especially children and young adults in the age group of 12 to 18 years,” said the Managing Director of the company, Dr. Sharvil Patel.
Meanwhile, the government is still waiting for the recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) for introducing ZyCoV-D in the inoculation drive for adults and children with co-morbidities.
NTAGI will provide the protocol and framework for the introduction of this vaccine in the COVID-19 immunisation drive.
Official sources earlier had said that the pricing of ZyCoV-D would be different from that of Covaxin and Covishield as apart from being a three-dose vaccine, it requires a special pharma jet injector that has to be used for administering the vaccine.
That pharma jet injector can be used for administering around 20,000 doses.
“The jet applicator helps the vaccine fluid to penetrate the skin to enter cells of the recipient,” the source said.
Zydus Cadila can provide around two crore doses in November, a source had said.
The government is currently procuring two other vaccines – Covishield at ₹ 205 per dose and Covaxin at ₹ 215 per dose – for the national COVID-19 immunisation programme.
Covishield, Covaxin, and Sputnik V are being given to only those above 18 years of age and unlike ZyCoV-D, these are two-dose regimens.
India has administered more than 106 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccines so far.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase. The vaccination of frontline workers started on February 2.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1. The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.