India’s first mRNA vaccine against Omicron

GEMCOVAC-OM, India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, was approved under emergency use guidelines by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). 

image 122


  • Developed by: Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. 
  • GEMCOVAC-OM is touted to be stable in a 2-8 degrees Celsius range and hence could be stored in ordinary refrigerators. 
  • It could be administered into the skin via a “needle-free” PharmaJet system.

mRNA vaccines:

  • mRNA vaccines use a small piece of synthetic mRNA (messenger RNA) that encodes the instructions for making a viral protein.
    • The mRNA in the vaccine is a single-stranded RNA molecule that provides the blueprint for the production of a specific viral protein (spike protein in the case of COVID-19).
    • Once the mRNA is injected into the body, cells take up the mRNA and use it to produce the viral protein. This protein then triggers an immune response, leading to the production of antibodies and the activation of immune cells. 
  • The purpose of mRNA vaccines is to stimulate an immune response without causing the actual disease. 
What is mRNA? The messenger molecule that's been in every living cell for  billions of years is the key ingredient in some COVID-19 vaccines


  • As mRNA vaccines are not developed from an active pathogen or an inactivated pathogen, they are non-infectious. 
  • RNA vaccines can be produced faster and cheaper as compared to conventional/ traditional vaccines. 
  • Replication mechanism can amplify antigen translation, decreasing the amount of starting material needed. It can be produced with fewer error rates. 
  • According to preliminary trial results, these vaccines produce a reliable immune response and can be tolerated by healthy individuals with few side effects.

Risks of mRNA vaccine:

  • mRNA vaccines are new. Thus, there is the risk of unknown effects, both short and longer-term.
  • Some mRNA-based vaccines are associated not only with inflammation but also potentially with autoimmunity. 
  • The m-RNA molecule and lipid nanoparticle transport molecule is very fragile, and thus the vaccine must be kept at very low temperatures (minus 70-to-minus 80 degree Celsius) to avoid degrading.  

Comparison of mRNA and DNA vaccine:


  • Both vaccines deliver the message to cells to create desired protein so the immune system creates a response against this protein.
  • Both produce a specific portion of the virus – spike protein in the case of coronavirus.
  • Both are laboratory-made structures and not obtained from the actual virus.
  • Both are being touted for their cost-effectiveness and ability to be developed more quickly than traditional, protein vaccines.
    • Traditional vaccines often rely on actual viruses or viral proteins grown in eggs or cells and can take years and years to develop.
  • Both can theoretically be made more readily available because they rely on genetic code–not a live virus or bacteria. This also makes them cheaper to produce.


  • DNA is much easy to prepare in the laboratory. The DNA-based vaccine will be around 10 times cheaper.
  • m-RNA based vaccine uses Ribosome in the cytoplasm to produce the spike protein. DNA must enter the nucleus of the cell to produce the spike protein. Since, in the case of DNA vaccine, entry into the nucleus is required, so, safety concerns are more. 

Practice Question:

Q. Consider the following statements regarding mRNA vaccines:

1. mRNA vaccines use live attenuated virus particles to stimulate an immune response in the body.

2. The vaccine is cost-effective and can be developed more quickly than traditional vaccines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Scroll down for answer









Answer: (b) 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar