Meet ZyCoV-D: The world’s first DNA Covid-19 vaccine; everything you need to know about the new vaccine

  • It is the world’s first DNA vaccine to protect against Covid 19. Requires a triple dose for immunity and showcased 67% efficacy in trials. The vaccine is deemed safe for children above the age of 12.

What kind of vaccine is it? How is it different than Covishield and Covaxin?

  • Cadila’s ZyCoV-D is a plasmid DNA vaccine that introduces a DNA sequence encoding the antigen in the body and not a weakened form of the pathogen like Covaxin.

How does a DNA vaccine work?

  • Often referred to as the third-generation vaccines, the dose carries the genetic code of the virus that triggers the build up of immunity in one’s body.
  • Zydus stated that the plasmid DNA platform is “ideally suited for dealing with Covid-19 as it can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus, such as those already occurring”.

Is a DNA vaccine being used anywhere else in the world?

  • No DNA vaccine has been widely used against any disease so far, but they are more stable and easier to store than mRNA shots (tech used by Pfizer & Moderna)
  • According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, over 160 different DNA vaccines are currently being tested in human clinical trials in the United States. It is estimated that 62% of these trials are devoted to cancer vaccines and 33% are applied for vaccines against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

How many doses does one need?

  • Unlike most other Covid-19 vaccines, which require two doses for full immunity, ZyCoV-D is administered in three doses. The vaccine is also needle-free.
  • The doses will be administered 28 days apart

Needle-free vaccine, how does one get the dose?

  • Doses are given using a device that delivers fluid through a spring-powered jet that penetrates the skin, developed by Pharmajet’s Tropis. Zydus Cadila claims this method of delivery is painless and could also reduce side effects from the jab.

Is it safe? What are the trial results showing?

  • The vaccine has been tested on almost 30,000 participants across Phase I, II and III studies, and is the first vaccine in India to be tested on 12 to 18-year-olds. Around 1,000 participants were enrolled in the adolescent age group, among whom the vaccine was found to be safe and well-tolerated, with similar findings in the adult population

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