The Indian drug regulator has approved the world’s first DNA vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use. The three-dose ZyCoV-D vaccine prevented disease in 66% of those vaccinated. This is reported in an interim study conducted by the vaccine manufacturer Cadila Healthcare.
The company plans to annually produce up to 120 million doses of the second Indian vaccine of its own production. Previous DNA vaccines have worked well in animals, but not in humans.
India has already administered more than 570 million doses of three previously approved vaccines – Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V. About 13% of adults have been fully vaccinated, and 47% have received at least one vaccine since the campaign began in January.
Cadila Healthcare said it has conducted the largest clinical trial of a vaccine in India to date, involving 28,000 volunteers in more than 50 centers.
The company also said that this is the first time a COVID-19 vaccine has been tested on young people in India – 1,000 people in the 12-18 age group. The vaccine was rated “safe and very well tolerated” in this age group.
A key phase 3 clinical trial was conducted at the peak of the second wave of the virus. The vaccine manufacturer believes this has confirmed the “efficacy of the vaccine against mutant strains,” especially the highly infectious Delta variant.