India’s 1st homegrown mRNA Covid vax may have low market penetration: Report

New Delhi: The recently approved Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals’ two-dose mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, expected to be soon available in the country, is likely to see low penetration in the Indian market, according to a report on Monday.

The jab GEMCOVAC-19, known as India’s first indigenously developed mRNA vaccine against Covid, was approved by the apex drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) last month. The vaccine has been given approval for restricted emergency use for those aged 18 years and above.

The report by data and analytics company GlobalData showed that since the vaccine is not approved as a booster dose in the country, its penetration is likely to be low.

It is because 93 per cent of the eligible population (12 years and above) in India has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, while 83 per cent of the eligible population are fully vaccinated as of July 7.

In contrast, penetration for the precautionary dose (terminology used for a booster dose in India) is significantly low at below 5 per cent, according to the government’s web portal CoWIN.

“While the majority of India’s eligible population have completed their initial dosing of the Covid-19 vaccines, the mRNA platform is likely to be an option in the medium to long-term as a booster dose,” said Neha Myneni, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, in a statement.

“GEMCOVAC-19 has currently not received approval for use as a booster dose in India. Hence, GlobalData expects low market penetration as the proportion of the eligible population yet to receive a Covid-19 vaccine is comparatively small,” Myneni added.

GEMCOVAC-19 is the third mRNA vaccine to be approved for Covid-19 in the world, after Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna.

However, GEMCOVAC-19 is only approved in India. While Moderna’s Spikevax has been approved as an mRNA vaccine alternative for Covid in India, it is not yet available for use.

Further, the report stated that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) could consider GEMCOVAC-19 for inclusion in India’s ongoing national programme for Covid vaccination, which signals its possible market launch soon.

“GEMCOVAC-19’s approval surely paves the way for further development of homegrown mRNA vaccines for other deadly diseases in India. However, its success post-launch will likely depend on the government’s decision to procure and deploy the vaccine, as the majority of the vaccinations in India are driven by the government (40,530 vaccination sites run by the government vs. 1,396 sites run by private institutions),” Myneni said.

GEMCOVAC-19 is a two dose vaccine to be administered intramuscularly at 28 days apart. According to Gennova, clinical trials found the jab to be safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic.

The company claimed that it aims to produce around 40-50 lakhs of doses per month and this capacity can be quickly doubled.



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