Zydus Cadila, which was testing its Covid-19 vaccine candidate on children of 12-18 years, may soon seek emergency use authorization for its vaccine from the Drug Controller General of India.
According to Business Standard, if approved, this would be the first DNA-plasmid vaccine in the world. Sources in the government and the company confirmed that the Ahmedabad-based firm may seek an emergency use authorization from the drug regulator in around a week.
“The data analysis from the phase 3 trials is almost ready. The company may soon seek EUA for its vaccine,” a government official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
ZyCov-D, developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus-Cadila, uses plasmid DNA (in contrast to mRNA as used by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) to instruct human cells to make SARS-CoV-2 antigen eliciting an immune response. Therefore, it can be stored between 2-8 degrees Celsius, whereas Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires cold-chain maintenance of up to -70 degrees Celsius, or at least -15 to -25 degrees Celsius. It is expected that the vaccine can be more easily “tweaked” than mRNA vaccines for use against variants.
Even as experts say that the children rarely develop severe forms of Covid-19, the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra have recently seen a spike in paediatric Covid cases, and some deaths too. Not only instances of coronavirus, some cases of paediatric black fungus have been reported too.
World Health Organisation’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had told News18 that till vaccines are available for children, more and more parents and teachers need to get vaccinated to protect them from contracting the virus.
“I am very hopeful that ultimately we’ll have vaccine for children. But that’s not going to happen this year, and we should open schools when community transmission is down. That’s what rest of the countries have done, with other precautions. And if teachers are vaccinated, that would be a big step forward," WHO’s top scientist added.
Children aged 12-15 are already being jabbed in the US, Canada and the EU, while the United Kingdom has also approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for that age group.