Earlier generations carry scars from polio injections, which millennials and Gen Zs can’t relate to since they were replaced by oral vaccines in India by the 80s. For our generation, any mention of covid vaccination will immediately evoke the memory of needles, but that is about to change. Now Bharat Biotech, the firm behind one of India’s most used covid vaccine Covaxin, has created the world’s first intranasal vaccine called iNCOVACC.
What’s the cost and process?
The vaccine to be available for Rs 800 at private hospitals, which goes up to Rs 1000 with GST, and for Rs 325 at government facilities. It will be administered through the nose, without needles, and can be booked through the CoWin website or app at a nearby centre.
How does it provide enhanced protection?
The absence of syringe can be given to more people in a shorter time span, and it won’t require trained personnel for the process. The vaccine is also more likely to prevent transmission, since it introduces antibodies in the upper respiratory system through the mucosal membrane. By doing so, iNCOVACC can nip the problem in the bud, by tackling the virus where it enters the body. Nasal vaccines are also expected to be more effective in preventing lung damage.
Is iNCOVACC the ultimate gamechanger?
But even with enhanced safety from covid as compared to the vaccines we get through jabs, the nasal variant is just another step forward, in a space with a lot of room for improvement. With multiple mutations of the covid-19 virus triggering successive waves, the evolution of the vaccine will provide an edge to humanity in the battle. Ease of distribution also means that there won’t be need for a cold chain to transport the vaccine, and even if iNCOVACC isn’t free, it’s affordable compared to Covaxin and Covishield.
How was it developed?
Bharat Biotech has developed iNCOVACC with the technology which originated from the Washington University in St Louis. Its own tests have also found it safer and easier to tolerate, as compared to Covaxin. Apart from being a revolutionary introduction to India’s vaccination drive, the nasal vaccine can also be used as a booster for those who took Covaxin and Covishield.
Are there more advantages?
Use of multiple platforms can create heterologous immunity, that is known to be more effective than homologous immunity. Ease of administration can also significantly improve the coverage of the third dose in India, which has been restricted to 27 per cent so far.
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