Ahmedabad- based Zydus Cadila's COVID-19 vaccine, ZyCov-D produced in collaboration with the Department of Biotechnology is the first vaccine that is approved to be given to children between the ages of 12-18 in India. It is the sixth vaccine to receive emergency use authorisation in the country.
While countries like the United States began vaccinating children in this specific age group, India is yet to start vaccinating them. Once available, this vaccine will now be given to this age group that has been reporting COVID-19 cases but did not have any vaccine approved for them
The vaccine made with plasmid DNA is also using needle-less technology to insert the virus intradermally. It can be stored at 2-8º C.
How Does The Zydus Vaccine Act Against SARS-CoV-2?
Using plasmid DNA technology (tiny DNA molecules) as a platform for SARS-CoV-2, these plasmid DNA molecules emulate the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 inside the body and push the body to elicit an immune response against it. ZyCoV-D, according to the company, can be easily adapted to deal with mutations, making the plasmid DNA platform a lucrative and easy to use technology. The vaccine has already exhibited significant immunogenicity and tolerability and safety as reported in the Phase I/II clinical trials.
Is It Safe For Children?
ZyCov-D vaccine has showed 66 per cent effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2. The pharmaceutical conducted one of the largest trials in the country with 28,000 participants that included adolescents in the age group of 12-18. The complete data that could provide an age-wise bifurcation is yet to be published in any journal. The findings were only shared with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and its subject expert committee that recommended the vaccine's approval.
Furthermore, to alleviate the fear of needles that is prevalent among children, this vaccine uses a needle free injection called PharmaJet which uses a spring to inject the vaccine in the intradermal area.
How Many Doses Does One Need?
The plasmid DNA vaccine is to be given in three shots- 28 and 56 days after the first shot. Zydus Cadila intends to manufacture 100-120 million doses in 2021 and start vaccinating this age group from September.
Which Other COVID-19 Vaccines Can Be Given To Children?
Canada, European Union, and the United States of America are currently administering the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to youngsters between 12-18 years of age. Moderna has presented its findings of the vaccine being 100 per cent safe with the US Food and Drugs Administration.
In India, the other homegrown vaccine, Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, is also under clinical trials among the adolescent age group. This, however, is not a randomised control clinical trial and will not have any participant receiving placebos.
Even the Johnson and Johnson as well as Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines have launched trials among the 12-18 population. AstraZeneca has gone one step further to also include children between the ages of 6-12. The vaccine known as Covishield in India is also being manufactured and tested as a nasal spray to smoothen the administration process. Even Russia's Gamaleya Institute that developed the Sputnik V vaccine, is researching the possibility of nasal spray vaccines for the younger age group.
Several participating parents in the trials for Covishield are apprehensive about participation, the Times of India reported, as the study is a double-blind study suggesting that there is a possibility that the child may receive a placebo and not the vaccine.
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