India’s first cervical cancer vaccine Cervavac announced

The vaccine will be available in the price range of Rs 200-400

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Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla with Jitendra Singh, Union minister of science and technology at the launch of the vaccine. Photo: Serum Institute of India
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla with Jitendra Singh, Union minister of science and technology at the launch of the vaccine. Photo: Serum Institute of India

India has announced the scientific completion of the first-ever indigenously developed Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (qHPV), Cervavac, to prevent cervical cancer.

Union minister of science and technology, Jitendra Singh, announced the vaccine at an event attended by dignitaries, including the CEO of Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla, director Prakash Kumar Singh, and Rajesh S Gokhale, secretary of the department of biotechnology. 

The vaccine has been developed through a partnership between SII, the department of biotechnology, the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

It will be distributed at affordable prices all over the country and eventually be globally exported. 

About the vaccine

Cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and is not easily curable. More than 50% of diagnosed patients worldwide have lost their lives to the disease. 

Speaking at the event, Jitendra Singh said the pandemic led to increased awareness among people and sped up research in the healthcare industry, thus helping in the development of preventive vaccines. 

Two thousand volunteers came forward to assist in this research from all over the country, Gokhale said. 

Singh said schemes such as Ayushman Bharat have made people think about preventive healthcare. He said at times, scientific efforts do not get the scale of recognition they deserve and so the event was organized to celebrate the scientific completion of the vaccine.

Poonawalla said the vaccine will be sold in the range of Rs 200-400, although the actual price has not been fixed yet. This is a lot cheaper than other vaccines available in the market, he said. 

Launch and distribution 

The serum institute had acquired received market authorization approval to manufacture Cervavac in July. The vaccine will be initially available to the public through the government. Gradually, private distributors will step in. 

Poonawalla said they plan to make around 200 million doses, which will be sold in India before being exported globally. 

N Kalaiselvi, the director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said the vaccine was the first stepping stone, and research will continue. 

Cervavac has shown a positive response. Compared to existing vaccines, it has shown an antibody response that is 1000 times higher for all kinds of HPV and in all age groups.

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