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Clinical Trial of Covid-19 Vaccine: ZyCoV-D

  • 17 Jul 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, India has started phase I/II clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine - ZyCoV-D, designed and developed by Zydus (a pharmaceutical company) with support from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

  • The adaptive phase I/II clinical trials will assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine.
  • The other indigenously developed vaccine - Covaxin - produced by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech is also underway to start clinical trials.

Key Points

  • Description: ZyCoV-D, a plasmid DNA vaccine, comes under the Vaccine Discovery Programme supported by the Department of Biotechnology under the National Biopharma Mission.
    • Plasmids are circular deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) vectors that can be used as vaccines to prevent various types of diseases.
  • Pre-Clinical Phase: It was found to initiate a strong immune response in multiple animal species like mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits.
    • The antibodies produced by the vaccine were able to neutralize the wild type virus indicating the protective potential of the vaccine candidate.
    • No safety concerns were observed in repeat dose by both intramuscular (directly into muscles) and intradermal (superficial injection into skin) routes of administration.
  • DNA Vaccine Platform: The development of ZyCov-D has established the DNA vaccine platform in the country which is simple to deploy, temperature stable, and consistently manufacturable- thus lowering costs and enhancing the effectiveness of a vaccine.
    • It provides ease of manufacturing the vaccine with minimal biosafety requirements.
    • It has shown much improved vaccine stability and lower cold chain requirements making it easy for transportation to remote regions of the country.
    • Furthermore, the platform can be rapidly used to modify the vaccine in a couple of weeks in case the virus mutates.

National Biopharma Mission

  • It is an industry-academia collaborative mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country.
  • It was launched in 2017 at a total cost of Rs. 1500 crore and is 50% co-funded by World Bank loan.
  • It is being implemented by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
    • BIRAC is a Public Sector Enterprise, set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology.
  • Under this Mission, the Government has launched Innovate in India (i3) programme to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the biopharma sector.
  • Objectives: Development of vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics and biotherapeutics besides, strengthening the clinical trial capacity and building technology transfer capabilities in the country.

Source: PIB

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