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India approves first Covid vax for children


In a crucial development in India’s fight against Coronavirus, Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine has got the emergency use approval for use among adults and children above 12 years of age. The Drug Controller General of India has granted emergency use approval to the three-dose Covid-19 vaccine among children. While India’s vaccination programme is going at a steady pace on the bank of three already approved Covid-19 vaccines, Zydus Cadila’s vaccine is the first vaccine which has been approved for use in children aged 12+ years. In view of the looming threat of the third wave of Coronavirus, many health experts had expressed apprehensions that children might become the predominant target in the third wave since they constitute the largest unvaccinated group in the country.

With the approval given to Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, the government is now armed with a measure that has the potential to control the spread of the disease among children. The vaccine which is produced on a plasmid DNA platform was jointly developed by the pharma major and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and is to be administered in three doses on the 0, 28th and 56th day. While other vaccine makers have also sought emergency use approval of their vaccines among children, Zydus Cadila became the first one to be granted the same as it had begun clinical trials on children way before any other manufacturer. In phase 3 clinical trials, the efficacy of the Zydus Cadila vaccine in preventing the occurrence of Coronavirus was found to be 66.66 percent.

When will the Centre start vaccinating children?
While the vaccine has been approved for emergency use among children, it is up to the central government to take a call on when and how to begin vaccination drive among children. Whether the vaccination drive will be rolled out among children or not is a question that assumes significance as the cases of Coronavirus are consistently coming down in the last few weeks. Top government sources told The Indian Express that the Zydus Cadila vaccine is likely to arrive in the markets by the month of October.

What makes Zydus Cadila vaccine unique?
The vaccine which has been named ZyCoV-D has been developed using the DNA plasmid vector that carries the gene encoding the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. When the vaccine is administered to the human cell, it enters the nucleus of the cell and produces spikes of protein which results in the human body releasing a lot of antibodies. The company has also claimed that the technology used in the development of the vaccine is ideally suited against the threat of Coronavirus as it can easily be evolved in tune with the emergence of new variants of the virus.

An additional advantage with the Zydus Cadila vaccine is the fact that it is needle-free and thereby reduces the body pain and other side effects that are experienced with other vaccines. Suited to the conditions of developing economies and tropical region countries like India, the vaccine also does not need ultra-cold storage and can comfortably be stored at a temperature between 2 and 8 degree Celsius.

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