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21st June 2023 (6 Topics)

India’s first mRNA based Omicron-specific booster vaccine

Context

India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variant, GEMCOVAC-OM, developed by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd, was approved under emergency use guidelines by the Drug Controller General of India.

About

  • The vaccine is the first booster Covid-19 vaccine developed in India against the highly transmissible Omicron variant 
  • The vaccine is a lyophilised (freeze dried) vaccine, stable at two to eight degrees Centigrade.
  • The vaccines could be administered into the skin via a “needle-free” PharmaJet system.

What are mRNA vaccines?

  • The mRNA vaccines use mRNA’s function as a protein information carrier to prompt the body to make specific proteins.
    • In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA instructs the cells to produce the spike protein found on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • When the body’s immune system detects these foreign proteins, it produces antibodies and other immune cells to fight what looks like an infection.
  • Then, if the immune system encounters that protein again in the future, it’s primed to mount a rapid response.

About messenger RNA (mRNA)

  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a molecule that contains the instructions or recipe that directs the cells to make a protein using its natural machinery.
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