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The ZyCoV-D mystery: 3 months after arrival in Bihar, not a single Covid vaccine shot given

Covid vaccine developed by Zydus Lifesciences was approved for use in those aged 12 and above in September 2021. Centre ordered 1 crore doses last year & delivery began in February.

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New Delhi: Close to three months since the arrival of the first consignment of ZyCoV-D in Bihar, the vaccine is yet to be included in the nationwide immunisation drive against Covid-19.

Data available on the CoWIN dashboard shows that the four vaccines currently part of the vaccination programme are Covaxin, Covishield, Sputnik V and Corbevax.

The central government had placed an order for 1 crore doses of ZyCoV-D last year, the delivery of which began only in February. The vaccine was approved for use in those aged 12 and above last September.

In December, the Centre had asked seven states, namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, to identify districts where the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Zydus Lifesciences could be administered to beneficiaries.

“The vaccine has been in Bihar for close to three months now but it has not been used. I cannot say why that is. We did ask them why they were not using it but we did not get a satisfactory reply. No other state has received it,” a senior official in the Union Ministry of Health told ThePrint.

Asked if the state had any concerns about ZyCoV-D, Bihar Health minister Mangal Pandey told ThePrint, “I will officially find out and let you know.”

Attempts to reach out to Bihar Additional Chief Secretary Pratyay Amrit, however, went unanswered by the time of the publication of this report.

ThePrint emailed Zydus Lifesciences on 22 April for a response and with queries about whether any states other than Bihar have received doses of ZyCoV-D, and also contacted the firm via Twitter on 23 April. No response had been received by the time this report was published. 

66.6% efficacy in Phase III trials

Developed by Gujarat-based Zydus Lifesciences, ZyCoV-D has been touted as the world’s first DNA vaccine. While the vaccine has a shelf life of six months, reports hint that a proposal is under consideration to increase the same to nine months.

A first of its kind, Zydus Lifesciences’s ZyCoV-D is a three-dose vaccine administered intradermally using needle free injection technology (NFIT). The second dose is administered 28 days from the first, followed by the third dose 56 days from the date of the first dose.

Earlier this month, results of Phase III trials of the Covid-19 vaccine were published in medical journal The Lancet. Conducted at a time when the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was the prevalent strain in India, findings of the trial peg the efficacy of ZyCoV-D at 66.6 per cent. As many as 28,000 healthy adult volunteers participated in the trial at over 50 sites across the country.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also read: Behind Modi & Dr Tedros’ smiles in Gujarat, India & WHO are at war over Covid deaths, Covaxin


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