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Cervical Cancer Vaccine: All You Need To Know About India's Self-Developed HPV Vaccine

India has made a remarkable scientific achievement by launching the first indigenously produced quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), aimed at preventing cervical cancer, a disease that kills a woman every eight minutes.

"It is very exciting, and I must say it makes us very happy that our daughters and granddaughters will now be able to get this much-awaited vaccine," said Dr N K Arora, Chairperson of the COVID working group, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).

Almost all women are at risk for cervical cancer, most commonly affecting women over 30. The main cause of cervical cancer is long-term infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted from one person to another.

In India, 41 91,000 women have died from cervical cancer since 2019, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) [1][2].

"The health ministry is planning to roll out qHPV for girls aged 9-14 years under the National Immunization Programme. The rollout may take up to six months," a source told PTI [3].

"It is likely to be priced in the ₹200-400 range. But we will finalise it after discussing it with the government of India. Once our manufacturing starts, we will be able to talk more about it... I can assure everyone that it is going to be very affordable. It is going to be substantially lower than what is available today from manufacturers across the globe," Poonawalla said, addressing an event to announce the vaccine's development.

Cervical Cancer Vaccine: All You Need To Know About India's Self-Developed HPV Vaccine

  • The vaccine will be launched at IIC Delhi by Union Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, and CEO of SII, Adar Poonawalla.
  • In July, the Indian pharma regulator, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), granted market authorization to the Serum Institute of India (SII) to manufacture an in-house cervical cancer vaccine.
  • It has been demonstrated that the qHPV vaccine CERVAVAC results in a robust antibody response nearly 1,000 times higher than the baseline response against the targeted HPV types in all doses and ages.
  • Since this particular virus causes 85 per cent to 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases, this vaccine prevents cervical cancer from occurring. Our children and daughters can be protected from infection if we give them this vaccine when they are young; consequently, they are unlikely to develop cancer 30 years later.
  • In contrast to current HPV vaccines, SII's vaccine will likely be much more affordable. It is currently completely dependent on foreign manufacturers for HPV vaccines.
  • In India, each dose of the vaccine could cost between Rs 2000 to Rs INR 3500 per dose, depending on the brand. Each person will require two-three doses of the cervical cancer vaccine, depending on the age. The Indian cervical cancer is expected to be priced in the ₹200-400 range.
  • In addition to protecting against cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, the HPV vaccine also protects against the other types of HPV [4].
  • Earlier on 1 August, SII informed the Centre that it could supply one crore of qHPV by December 2022.

How Does The Vaccine Help Prevent Cervical Cancer?

Women and girls can be protected against cervical cancer if the vaccine is administered before exposure to the virus. It is also effective against vulvar and vaginal cancers. Additionally, this vaccine effectively prevents genital warts, anal cancer, and mouth, throat, head, and neck cancers in both males and females [5].

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