India last month said that it had created the world’s first DNA vaccine, ZyCoV-D. While standard vaccines use actual ‘hardware’ protein, DNA vaccines use the ‘software’ blueprint of the virus.
India last month began boasting that it has created – and its regulatory body approved – the world’s first DNA vaccine, ZyCoV-D.
The vaccine, developed by a company called Zydus Cadila, expects to have it available for use as early as next month, giving hope to a country that has suffered more than 447,000 deaths at the hand of the virus. What is a DNA vaccine and could this new class of vaccination become the next tool in the world’s fight against COVID-19?
A DNA vaccine is a form of a software vaccine, explained Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Jonathan Gershoni.
A software vaccine is one in which scientists vaccinate with the blueprint of the virus – just the DNA or the RNA corresponding to the genes that code for the spike protein – injecting it in a palatable and effective way into the body. The cells then synthesize the viral protein, which leads to the production of antibodies against the viral spike.
This is as opposed to a hardware vaccine, which actually contains hardware, that is physical bits and pieces of the virus protein.