Covid-19 Updates(14th April 2021): Strides made to Vaccinate

by Shoubhik Sen

India reported around 1,84,000 new cases of Covid-19. However, Government of India and other authorities are leaving no stone unturned as far as vaccination is concerned. Thus, in today’s Covid-19 updates, we shall look into the state of vaccine availability. Additionally, we will also look into certain vaccine related developments in India.

Vaccination Spread

  • More than 10 crore people have been vaccinated in the country so far.
  • Moreover, GoI sent special vaccination team to Nicobar to vaccinate the people at their doorstep under the ongoing Tika Utsav in A&N Islands.
  • Centre fast tracks emergency approvals for foreign-produced COVID19 vaccines.
one dose

First 100 beneficiaries of foreign vaccines shall be assessed for 7 days for safety outcomes before it is further rolled out within the country.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Health Minister
  • India’s Cumulative Vaccination Coverage exceeds 11 Crores on the 4th day of Tika Utsav with over 26 Lakh doses given in the last 24 hours.
  • Furthermore, Centre fast tracked Emergency Approvals for foreign produced COVID-19 Vaccines. This applies to those vaccines which already have E.U.A (Emergency Use Approval) in other countries, to expand the Basket of Vaccines for Domestic Use.
  • It also includes those vaccines listed in WHO(Emergency Use Listing).
  • However, these need to undergo post-approval parallel bridging clinical trial in place of conduct of local clinical trial according to provisions prescribed under Second Schedule of the New Drugs & Clinical Trials Rules (2019).
  • Lastly, Government has once again stressed that those who received vaccine shall still follow CAB (Covid Appropriate Behaviour).

New Hope: India’s Indigenous mRNA-based Covid Vaccine

Department of Biotechnology (D.B.T) has approved additional funding towards clinical studies of India’s First mRNA-based Covid-19 Vaccine. This vaccine goes by the name of HGCO 19-. Furthermore, it’s an Indian company that’s making it, which goes by the name of Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. They have developed it in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, USA.

This vaccine does not use conventional methods to produce an immune response. Instead, it carries a synthetic RNA of the virus, through which it carries the main aspect. This is the molecular instructions to make the protein in the body. The host body uses these instructions to create a viral protein and mount an immune response to the virus. It recognises the virus via the protein created.

HGCO 19 Covid mRNA Vaccine

The Ministry of Science & Technology says that Gennova’s vaccine candidate uses the most prominent mutant of spike protein (D614G). Additionally, it uses the self-amplifying mRNA platform, which gives the advantage of a low dosing regimen compared with the non-replicating mRNA or traditional vaccines.

We can consider this to be a good sign as mRNA vaccines are much suitable during a pandemic. This is because these can be developed rapidly as they are fully synthetic and do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria.. Moreover, these are non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms. Additionally, these are also highly effective as these can be translated into protein inside our cells’ cytoplasm.

Thus, Gennova has completed all preliminary work and should be initiating the Phase I/II Human clinical trial soon since the approval from the DCGI office has been received.

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