In an important development in the battle against COVID-19, India's drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Tuesday approved the country's first-ever indigenously developed Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine against COVID-19. Although an official announcement is pending, official sources revealed that the vaccine developed and manufactured by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals is approved for restricted emergency use for those aged 18 years and above.
As per the official, Gennova's mRNA COVID vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degrees, which is of remarkable convenience for a country such as India. Other mRNA vaccines need to be stored in sub-zero temperatures, which prove to be a challenge in India.
mRNA vaccines are safe
Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has made India's first mRNA vaccine known as HGC019, in collaboration with US-based HDT Bio Corp. The mRNA vaccines carry the molecular information to make the protein in the host using the synthetic RNA of the virus. The host body produces the viral protein that is recognised by the immune system, thereby enabling the body to fight against the disease.
mRNA vaccines are considered safe as mRNA is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms. They are highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translated into proteins in the cell.
These vaccines also represent a promising alternative to conventional vaccine approaches because of their high potency, capacity for rapid development, and potential for low-cost manufacture and safe administration. mRNA vaccines have elicited potent immunity against infectious disease targets in animal models of influenza virus, Zika virus, rabies virus and others, especially in recent years.