Work on developing dengue vaccines under way: ICMR chief

Work on developing dengue vaccines under way: ICMR chief
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Work on developing dengue vaccines under way: ICMR chief Balram Bhargava, director general, Indian Council for Medical Research. (File photo: PTI)

With a rise in dengue cases across the country, work has started on on developing dengue vaccines. Balram Bhargava, director general, Indian Council for Medical Research, said on Thursday at the health ministry briefing that companies have started on trials for the Dengue vaccine.

“Dengue vaccine is a very important agenda. There are certain Dengue strains which have been licensed to several companies in India. We are working very closely with them for the trials. Many of these companies have done their Phase I trials outside the country. We are planning to do more vigorous trials very soon with the dengue vaccines,” Bhargava said.

On the progress of Covid-19 vaccines, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine ZyCovD had been given Emergency Use Approval and would come in the Covid-19 vaccination programme. The price at which the vaccine would be procured was under discussion with the manufacturer, he said. “As it is a three-dose vaccine and it comes with a needle-less delivery system it would have a differential pricing that the existing vaccines that are in the Covid vaccination programme,” Bhushan said. But it is not yet in the market but it would be introduced very shortly, he said.

On the Covid-19 vaccination front, the government is close to administering 89 crore doses till date. Nearly 69% of the adult population have got their first dose and 25% getting both vaccine doses. The country has on an average administered 79.08 lakh a day during September and expanded vaccine coverage.

Six states and Union Territories have achieved 100% coverage of first dose. These include Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Goa and Sikkim. Further ten states have achieved 80% coverage of the first shot. Fifteen states have covered between 60-80% of the eligible adult population.

The ICMR director said there are no plans for booster doses and the focus would be on full vaccination of the adult population. He highlighted studies in Bengaluru that showed that more than 95% of the antibodies persisting for much longer and up to a year so booster doses were not pertinent.

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