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India Launches Its First Nasal Vaccine iNCOVACC

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In the fight against COVID-19, India launched its first nasal vaccine on Thursday.

Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya and Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh officially launched iNCOVACC. 

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) approved iNCOVACC (BBV154) earlier this month to be used as a primary vaccine and also as a heterologous booster dose. 

A booster dose in India is given to  people who had already received two doses of Covishied or Covaxin, the two main Indian vaccines.

The vaccine is made by the Indian biotechnology firm Bharat Biotech and is used as drops which revive an immune response in the tissues in the nasal cavity. 

Prior to getting approval, Bharat Biotech announced the prices for each shot for both government and private vaccination centers. For government centers the price would be ₹325 per shot and for private it would be ₹800. 

The effectiveness of iNCOVACC as a primary dosage schedule and a heterologous booster dose for patients who have already received two doses of either Covishield or Covaxin were assessed in clinical trials.

According to scientists, nasal vaccines are crucial as they protect the lining of the nose and upper airways, the area from where COVID infection typically enters the body. 

The vaccination was “simple to distribute” because it didn’t require a syringe or needle, according to Dr Krishna Ella, chairman of Bharat Biotech, and it elicited a greater immune response than injectable Covid vaccines.

India is not the only country to approve nasal vaccines as China had, in September 2022, approved an inhaled Covid vaccine which is given as a spray. Also, researchers in the US and the UK have also been investigating nasal spray vaccines.

India started giving boosters in January 2022, starting from healthcare and frontline workers, and those above 60 years with comorbidities. Later, the booster shots were given to all adults.

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