New Dehli: During ongoing pricing discussions between the Government of India and Zydus Cadila pharmaceutical company on Covid vaccine ZyCov-D, two unresolved issues have arisen.
First, ZyCov-D needs 3 doses for full efficency unlike the vaccines currently in use, and secondly, it needs to use a special vaccine application costing RS 30,000 to provide a vaccine.
ZyCov-D — the world’s first DNA vaccine — is a three-dose vaccine that will be given on day zero, day 28 and day 56. Each dose consists of two shots that are supposed to be administered on each arm, and thus, a person has to be injected with a total of six shots of this vaccine to be fully vaccinated.
This means that even if the vaccine is available for the same price as the ones currently in use, the total cost of the vaccination will be about 33 per cent higher.
The vaccine also uses a needle-free applicator or a jet injector, which pressurises liquid medication into a narrow stream that is capable of penetrating skin.
The injector has two parts — an applicator that costs Rs 90 and has to be replaced after every person, and a gun that costs Rs 30,000. The gun has to be replaced after 20,000 shots, which means that it can be used on 10,000 people since each vaccine dose consists of two shots.
According to government sources, both the central government and Zydus have to reach a middle point in the ongoing price talks.
“We are awaiting the NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) recommendation on its (ZyCov-D) use but there are two obvious issues. One is that it is a three-dose vaccine. That does not mean we will not use it but we just have to reach a middle point (in price talks with Zydus). The second is that the applicator will also be provided by Zydus. One applicator (gun) can vaccinate 10,000 people but that price will also be factored into the final figure.
The vaccine’s jet injectors are manufactured by a company called Pharmajet, but the government is not looking at procuring the devices from the manufacturer at present, clarified the source.
“For now at least the applicators will be supplied by Zydus,” he said. India has already started training vaccinators in using the device.
“The gun is imported and the applicator is manufactured in the country. Eventually the gun too will be manufactured indigenously and that will change the situation considerably,” a senior health ministry official.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are many advantages of using jet injectors instead of a needle for inoculation since they “prevent needle-stick injuries to health-care providers and can overcome improper, unsterile reuse”.
ThePrint reached Zydus via phone calls and email for a response but did not receive a response till the time of publishing this report.