The world's first made-in-India intranasal Covid-19 vaccine iNCOVACC, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, was launched on Thursday as India marked its 74th Republic Day. Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya launched the vaccine and emphasised India's vaccine manufacturing and innovation capability, which he said is appreciated all over the world.
"As the world's first intranasal Covid-19 vaccine, this is a glorious tribute to the call for Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-sufficiency in India)," Mandaviya said at the launch. Bharat Biotech said it is intended for low-and middle-income countries.
5 things to know about the first intranasal vaccine iNCOVACC:
iNCOVACC (BBV154) was approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in November for limited emergency use as a heterologous booster dose in adults. It is a pre-fusion stabilised recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine.
Because of the organised immune systems of the nasal mucosa, the nasal route has excellent vaccination potential. Immune responses at the site of infection (in the nasal mucosa) are critical for preventing Covid-19 infection and transmission.
Bharat Biotech said the vaccine is now available on CoWIN, and is priced at ₹800 for private markets and ₹325 for supplies to the central and state governments. According to the company, iNCOVACC was evaluated in phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials involving over 3,000 participants, with positive results. Media reports claimed that the intranasal heterologous booster dose will be available in the market from the first week of February.
When administered as a nasal spray, it eliminates the need for syringes, needles, alcohol wipes, bandages, and other items, saving money on procurement, distribution, storage, and biomedical waste disposal, all of which are routine requirements for intravenous injections. The vaccine can be kept in a regular refrigerator at temperatures ranging from 2-8°C, making it simple to store and distribute across the country.
Nasal vaccines have long been regarded as a critical means of ending the pandemic by scientists and health experts. These sprays aim to protect the nasal pathway, which is the first site of infection for the Sars-CoV-2 virus. The vaccine coats the mucous membrane in the nasal pathway with an antibody layer, preventing infection at the source.