ZyCoV-D expected to be rolled out in two weeks: Report
The indigenous COVID-19 vaccine developed by Zydus Cadila, called ZyCoV-D, is likely to be rolled out in the next two weeks. The three-dose vaccine is the only shot in India that has been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for minors (ages 12 years old and above). It is the world's first plasmid DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine and it can be applied in a needle-free manner.
Speaking to The Times of India, Dr. NK Arora, Chairperson of the Centre's COVID-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), said the vaccine is going through some final quality checks at the vaccine testing laboratory in Himachal Pradesh. "If everything goes as per plan, the vaccine will be introduced in the immunization program by October 15-20," Dr. Arora said.
Since ZyCoV-D is a three-dose vaccine, Dr. Arora said the government is concerned about its availability. "Since it is a three-dose vaccine, we need to ensure availability of one crore doses each month for the next three months," he told TOI.
Meanwhile, the central government is negotiating with Zydus Cadila over the pricing of ZyCoV-D, PTI reported. The company has reportedly proposed a price of Rs. 1,900 for its three-dose jab. "Negotiations are on. The company has been asked to reconsider all aspects regarding the cost of the vaccine. A final decision is likely to be taken this week," a source told the news agency.
Another source told PTI that ZyCoV-D has to be priced differently than COVAXIN and Covishield as it is a three-dose vaccine and will be administered through a needle-free injector. This needle-free jet injector reportedly costs Rs. 30,000. One jet injector can be used for administering around 20,000 doses. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, too, accepted the same while justifying different pricing for ZyCoV-D.
Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D is being developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The second and third doses are to be administered 28 and 56 days after the first one, respectively. It is India's first intra-dermal (administered between skin and muscles) vaccine administered through a specialized needle-free injector. Other COVID-19 vaccines approved are administered intramuscularly.