February 28, 2024

Why in news ?

Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila is soon going to apply Central Drugs Regulator (DGCI) for emergency approval of the corona vaccine ZyCoV-D. If approved, it will be the world’s first DNA-based vaccine. With this, the number of vaccines available in the country will increase to 4. So far, Serum Institute’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russia’s Sputnik-V are being used in India.

How does this vaccine work?

ZyCoV-D is a DNA-plasmid vaccine. This vaccine uses genetic material to increase the immunity of the body. Just as Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines in many countries including the US use mRNA to increase immunity; in the same way it uses plasmid-DNA. mRNA can also be called messenger RNA, which goes into the body and gives the message to make antibodies against the corona virus. Whereas, plasmid is a small DNA molecule present in human cells. This DNA is different from the common chromosome DNA. Plasmid-DNA is commonly found in bacterial cells and can replicate independently.  The plasmid-DNA is converted into a viral protein when it enters the human body. This develops a strong immune response to the virus in the body. This stops the virus from growing. If a virus changes its shape, that is, it has a mutation, then this vaccine can be changed in a few weeks. It is easier to maintain than other vaccines. It can be stored at 2 to 8 degree temperature. Even at 25 degree room temperature, it does not spoil. Because of this, there is no need of cold chain for its maintenance. Even for the new variant of the corona, it can be easily modified compared to the other vaccines.

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