Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh announced on Wednesday, September 1, 2022 the first locally developed Quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine “Cervavac” in India protecting against 6 HPV types , 11, 16 and 18 be available in Indian markets at an affordable price between INR 200-400.
While declaring the scientific completion of the vaccine, Singh said, “Covid has raised awareness for preventative health care leading to the development of vaccines like the one for cervical cancer.”
“Programs like Ayushman Bharat made us think about preventative health and now we can afford it. The Department of Biotechnology has taken the lead on this and is in collaborative mode,” he said.
Adding to the importance of modern science in recent times, Singh said, “Scientific endeavors sometimes don’t get the scale of recognition they deserve. So this event is to celebrate this scientific achievement.
Here, scientific completion implies that R&D activities relating to the vaccine are expected to be accomplished, but the next stage of public availability must be determined.
Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla who was also present on the sidelines of the event said, “The cervical cancer vaccine will be affordable and would be available in the INR 200 range. -400. However, the final price has yet to be decided.
Poonawalla said: “The vaccine will be launched by the end of the year. First, the vaccine would be made available through the government channel and from next year some private partners would also be involved.
He added, “A plan to manufacture 200 million doses is in place and the vaccine would first be administered in India and only after that it will be exported to other countries.”
Dr. Rajesh S. Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India said, “Over 2,000 volunteers have participated across the country for this vaccine.
“Private-public partnerships become very important in such research, this co-creation is what is going to make all the difference in the world,” Gokhale said.
Dr N Kalaiselvi, Director General of CSIR, said: “This is the first stepping stone and research in the field and it will continue. This government has taken great care in coming up with this kind of innovation, making us ‘atmanirbhar’,” she acclaimed.
According to the officials, the qHPV vaccine “Cervavac” demonstrated a robust antibody response, which is nearly 1,000 times higher than the reference value against all targeted HPV types in all doses and all age groups.
Earlier in July, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted marketing authorization for SII’s qHPV vaccine against cervical cancer.
The government advisory committee NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization) had recently endorsed qHPV after reviewing data from clinical trials of the vaccine.
According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the uterus through the vagina). Almost all cases of cervical cancer (99%) are linked to infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs), an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, around 570,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and around 311,000 women died from the disease, according to WHO.
When diagnosed, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. Cancers diagnosed at an advanced stage can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.
In May 2018, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced a global call to action to eliminate cervical cancer, underscoring renewed political will to make elimination a reality and calling on all stakeholders to unite behind this common goal.
Later in August 2020, the World Health Assembly adopted the Global Strategy for the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, in which all countries must achieve and maintain an incidence rate below four to 1 00,000 women.
India accounted for 25% of the global burden of cervical cancer mortality in 2018. (GLOBOCAN) Cervical cancer incidence rates varied across population-based cancer registries ( PBCR) in India with an average age-standardized rate (ASR) of 22.0 per 100,000.
GLOBOCAN 2020, an online database offers global cancer statistics and estimates of incidence and mortality in approximately 185 countries for 36 cancer types and for all cancer sites combined.
Currently, Eswatini (which changed its name from Swaziland in 2018) had the highest rate of cervical cancer in 2020, followed by Malawi across the world.