GS Paper - 3 (Biotechnology)

The world’s first DNA-plasmid vaccine, the three-dose one for Covid-19 developed by Cadila Healthcare (Zydus Cadila), has received emergency-use authorization (EUA) from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for use in adolescents 12 years old and above. This makes indigenously developed ZyCoV-D India’s first Covid-19 vaccine for this age group, and the vaccine has many firsts.


  1. It is based on DNA-plasmid technology; then, it can be administered using a needle-free injection system; and finally, it remains stable in room temperatures for three months.
  2. This is a three-dose vaccine whose second and the third doses are 28 and 56 days, respectively, after the first.
  3. Typically, in a needle-free injection system, a jet of fluid is accelerated to high speed, providing it significant penetrating power through a fine-diameter nozzle when placed against the skin.
  4. The DNA-based vaccine is the sixth jab against SARS-CoV2 to get emergency use authorization in India.
  5. So far, Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V are available in India, whereas vaccines developed by Moderna and J&J have also been approved with emergency authorisation.

What is a DNA-plasmid vaccine?

  1. Conventional active vaccines are made from a killed or weakened form of the infectious agent.
  2. A DNA-plasmid vaccine is a relatively new approach where a piece of DNA containing the genes for the antigens is injected.
  3. The body then learns to develop an immune response against the antigen, and when the pathogen attacks, the body is able to generate the specific antibodies against it.