Zydus Cadila's three-dose COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D is set to be included in the national anti-coronavirus inoculation programme this month with the Union government placing a purchase order with the Ahmedabad-based firm for one crore doses, official sources said on Sunday. 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. ZyCoV-D is the first vaccine cleared by India's drug regulator for inoculation of those aged 12 years and above.
"The Centre has already placed a purchase order with Zydus Cadila for supply of one crore doses of ZyCoV-D, each costing around Rs 358 excluding taxes, at the earliest. This price includes the cost of a disposable painless jet applicator which has to be used for administering each dose," an official source said. "The vaccine in all probability will be given to adults initially because of limited production capacity," the source said. Zydus Cadila is in a position to provide one crore doses of ZyCoV-D per month, company officials are learnt to have conveyed to the ministry.
For administering to adults, frontline workers and vaccinators will be provided a brief training for using the needle-free pharma jet application in actual field settings.
The three doses of ZyCoV-D are to be administered 28 days apart, with each dose comprising a shot in both arms. ZyCoV-D received emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator on August 20.
Meanwhile, a comprehensive programme for paediatric immunisation including developing a priority list of comorbidities is being worked out by the NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) for the launch of ZyCoV-D and Covaxin.
As for the emergency use approval for Bharat Biotech's Covaxin in the 2 to 18 years age group by the Drugs Controller General of India, it is under expert opinion and evaluation, official sources said.
The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drug Authority on October 12 had recommended granting emergency use authorisation to Covaxin for children and adolescents in the 2 to 18 years age group with certain conditions. At present, every citizen who is 18 years or above is eligible for the vaccination drive.