Covid: Union Minister Jitendra Singh Launches India’s First Omicron-Specific Booster Vaccine


New Delhi: Union minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday launched the country’s first Omicron-specific mRNA-based booster vaccine for Covid-19, news agency PTI reported. The mRNA vaccine GEMCOVAC-OM was developed using the indigenous platform technology by Gennova, with funding support from Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a statement said.

GEMCOVAC-OM is the fifth vaccine developed with support from Mission COVID Suraksha that was implemented by DBT and BIRAC under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package of the government for accelerated development of Covid-19 vaccines.

GEMCOVAC-OM is a thermostable vaccine and it does not require ultra-cold chain infrastructure that is used for other mRNA-based vaccines.

This innovation makes it easy for last mile deployment in our country. The existing supply chain infrastructure is sufficient to deploy this vaccine,” said Jitendra Singh, adding, “Its unique feature is that this vaccine can be administered without a needle injection.”

“The vaccine is delivered intra-dermally using a needle-free injection device system and in study participants it generated significantly higher immune responses,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the clinical outcome shows the need for variant-specific vaccines for desired immune response.

This vaccine can be administered as a booster in participants who have received two doses of Covishield and Covaxin.

Earlier this week, the Drug Control General of India (DCGI) granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to the Omicron-specific booster vaccine.

Speaking on the occasion, Singh had said, “I take great pride in DBT fulfilling its mission yet again — enabling technology-driven entrepreneurship through creating this indigenous mRNA-platform technology. We have always supported technology-driven innovation towards the creation of a ‘future-ready’ technology platform in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Aatmanirbharta.”

“Infrastructure to deploy vaccine in India, including LMICs, at 2‑8°C exist today and this innovation is tailored for the existing established supply-chain Infrastructure. The vaccine does not need ultra-low temperature conditions for transport and storage,” he further said.

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