India rolls out nasal Covid vaccine: Where and how to take it

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India released its first nasal COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech, for public use on Friday. This comes after Bharat Biotech received an approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for the use of the nasal booster dose, iNCOVACC (BBV154), last month.

Bharat Biotech’s injectable COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, is also one of the few vaccines under the government’s vaccination programme.

Meanwhile, in an interview with India Today, Dr Randeep Guleria said that nasal vaccines are preferable since they are easy to administer and give mucosal immunity that protects one from the early part of the infection. He also batted for mixing and matching vaccines.

Here’s all you need to know about the nasal COVID vaccine, and how and where to take it:

  1. The nasal vaccine by Bharat Biotech is a heterologous booster. A heterologous booster includes administering a different vaccine than that of the primary vaccine.
  2. The two-drop nasal vaccine will be introduced on the Co-WIN platform today and will be under the government’s vaccination programme.
  3. The first nasal vaccine in India will be available in private centres only for now.
  4. Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilized spike protein.
  5. The government had earlier said that this nasal vaccine can catapult mass vaccination during pandemics and endemics. It said that it can enable faster development and easy nasal delivery.
  6. It has been designed to be cost-effective for usage in low- and middle-income countries.
  7. The nasal vaccine will be stable at 2-8 degree Celsius, making it easy for storage and distribution.
  8. Bharat Biotech has large manufacturing capabilities across the country in Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana.
  9. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and its PSU, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance (BIRAC), supported the development of the COVID-19 nasal vaccine.
  10. The product development and clinical trials of the nasal vaccine were funded by the Department of Biotechnology and BIRAC under the Mission COVID Suraksha Program.
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