India has given the go-ahead for the emergency production of a DNA vaccine, Zydus Cadila’s COVID-19 vaccine, or ZyCoV-D, which uses genetic material from the virus to trigger protein production and an immune response to COVID-19, but the technology differs from the other vaccines currently in use. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology, using a genetic blueprint message for making proteins that do not interact with the body's genetic code. Likewise DNA vaccines use a single strand of mRNA that codes for a pathogen's protein, but also use another single strand of genetic material to form a double strand of DNA which is then encapsulated inside a plasmid as a vector to carry the genetic material inside the body's cells and generate an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. However understanding of genetics and biochemistry in the global population remains low, and distrust and vaccine skepticism remains a significant issue in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the benefits and risks of DNA vaccines?
Do we need them to deal with COVID-19?
Or is it soon for yet more novel technologies?