India is all set to receive its first cervical cancer vaccine, the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (qHPV), today, i.e., September 1. The most awaited vaccine will be launched by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology Jitendra Singh at IIC Delhi.
On July 12, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) granted marketing authorization to the Serum Institute of India (SII) to manufacture a locally developed vaccine against cervical cancer. Cervical cancer in India ranks as the second most common cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. The revolutionary step for Indian demographics will now help prevent cases of cervical cancer.
Dr. N K Arora, chairman of the COVID working group, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) said that it is an exciting experience to launch a vaccine manufactured in India.
“It is very exciting and I must say it makes us very happy that our daughters and granddaughters can now receive this much-awaited vaccine.”
What is cervical cancer?
When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over the age of 30. Long-term infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer. When cervical cancer is detected early, it is highly treatable and is associated with prolonged survival and good quality of life.
Here’s everything you need to know about India’s first vaccine against cervical cancer:
The cervical cancer vaccine, the tetravalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine, is developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
The qHPV vaccine CERVAVAC has demonstrated a robust antibody response that is almost 1000 times greater than baseline against all specific HPV types and across all dose and age groups.
Dr. N K Arora said, “It is very effective and prevents cervical cancer because 85% to 90% of the cases, cervical cancer is due to this particular virus and this vaccine is against those viruses. So, if we give it to our young sons and daughters, they are protected from infection and, as a result, probably 30 years later, cancer does not occur.”
The IBS vaccine is likely to be available at a much more affordable price. Currently, the country is totally dependent on foreign manufacturers for the HPV vaccine. Three foreign companies manufacture the HPV vaccine, of which two companies sell their vaccines in India. Each dose of the jab available in the market costs over Rs 4,000, sources told PTI. The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV types that most often cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
“The health ministry plans to roll out qHPV for girls aged 9-14 years under the National Immunization Program. The implementation may take up to six months,” a source told PTI.
Earlier, on August 1, SII informed the Centre that it may provide 1 crore doses of qHPV by December 2022.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, 41,91,000 women have died due to cervical cancer in India since 2019.