India soon to get needle-free vaccination

As India eagerly awaits its first needle-free Covid-19 vaccine, trials have also started in the western countries

High hopes are being made that Zydus Healthcare's anti-corona virus disease vaccine, ZyCoV-D, could be introduced in the national vaccination programme by next week.
A source associated with this procedure of vaccination informed that the vaccinators have been already trained to carry out their work in the best possible way.
ZyCoV-D is the world's first DNA-based and needle-free Covid-19 vaccine which has been approved for emergency use in people 12 years of age and above. However, in the absence of any policies in place on vaccinating children, the Union government has decided to first use the vaccine in adults.
Zydus informs that the Centre has placed an order of 10 million vaccine doses, at 265 per dose. An additional amount of Rs 93 will be charged as the cost of the needle-free intradermal applicator, which is required to administer the shot. The supplies are being released in a phased manner, according to people familiar with the matter.
ZyCoV-D is the second indigenously developed Covid-19 vaccine besides Covaxin, which will be initially used in districts of seven states that have low first dose coverage before being rolled out nationwide, one of the people cited above said. The list of the states includes Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The Central Drugs Laboratory in Kasauli at Himachal Pradesh has cleared for market release close to 250,000 doses of the Zydus vaccine after putting the vials through stringent quality tests.
The components of the needle-less vaccine
Image: The components of the needle-less vaccine
It was on August 20 when the Drugs Controller General of India granted emergency use authorization to ZyCoV-D but it is yet to be included in the vaccination drive.
ZyCoV-D will be the third vaccine to be used in the national vaccination programme, along with Covishield and Covaxin.
On December 16, 87.5% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while 57.1% has been fully vaccinated.
In Punjab, the Health Department is hopeful to start this new vaccination from the next week. It will be initially administered in Patiala, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts to beneficiaries above 18 years. The gap between both doses of the vaccination is 28 days.
The Central Drugs Laboratory in Kasauli at Himachal Pradesh has cleared for market release close to 250,000 doses of the Zydus vaccine after putting the vials through stringent quality tests.
State Nodal Officer of Punjab Dr Rajesh Bhasker said, "Health workers' training in administering the new vaccine will start from Tuesday. By the next week, we will start administering the new vaccine to the people."
Bhasker added that the vaccine would be administered into the dermis (inner layer of skin), located between epidermis and hypodermis, using a needle-free applicator. "The vaccine administration will be painless. Moreover, it has not reported any side-effects so far," he added.
In America, the scientists at the University of Cambridge on Tuesday began a clinical trial of a needle-free air-powered vaccine.
Developed by Professor Jonathan Heeney at the University of Cambridge and spin-out company DIOSynVax, the new DIOSvax technology is dubbed a next-generation coronavirus vaccine administered through a blast of air that delivers the dose into the skin.
It offers a possible future alternative to people who fear needle-based jabs and, if successful, it could be scaled up and manufactured as a powder to boost global vaccination efforts, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
The COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus uses "spike" proteins on its surface to gain entry to host cells. These proteins bind to ACE2, a protein receptor on the surface of cells in our airways, allowing the virus to release its genetic material into the host cell. The virus hijacks the host cell's machinery to allow itself to replicate and spread.
The working of the vaccine
Image: The working of the vaccine
Vaccines inform our bodies about what dangerous infections look like and how to respond to them. This is much safer than becoming infected with the live virus because it avoids the life-threatening effects the whole virus can have.
Immunization arms our immune system to look out for and block viruses, or destroy cells that carry the spike protein, protecting us from COVID-19 disease. Unfortunately, SARS-CoV-2 is constantly mutating and the virus spike protein itself is changing. This raises the prospect of "vaccine escape", where changes to the spike protein mean the immune system is no longer able to recognize it.
While most COVID-19 vaccines use the sequence of the RNA for the virus spike protein from the first isolated samples of the COVID-19 virus in January 2020, the new DIOSvax technology uses predictive methods to encode antigens like the spike protein that mimic the wider family of coronavirus antigens, thus giving wider protection.
"These next-generation DIOSvax vaccines should protect us against variants we've seen so far -- alpha, beta, delta variants, for example -- and hopefully future-proof us against emerging variants and potential coronavirus pandemics."



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