India likely to include vaccine against cervical cancer in national immunisation programme

Last week, SII launched the made-in-India HPV vaccine CERVAVAC

Livemint
First Published29 Jan 2023
While doctors say it is safe to vaccinate girls against HPV, some parents are still hesitant<br />
While doctors say it is safe to vaccinate girls against HPV, some parents are still hesitant

Centre is likely to include HPV vaccine in the national immunisation programme for girls aged nine to 14 years in June, sources close to the government informed adding that a global tender for the same is likely to be floated in April. HPV vaccine are critical to stop the spread of cervical cancer. 

"The ministry is likely to float in April a global tender for 16.02 crore doses of HPV vaccine, which will be supplied by 2026. Apart from domestic manufacturer Serum Institute of India, global vaccine manufacturer Merck is also likely to participate in the tender," an official source said, as quoted by news agency PTI.

Apparently, only last week, SII launched the made-in-India HPV vaccine "CERVAVAC".  The vaccine was launched by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in presence of the SII CEO Adar Poonawalla and Prakash Kumar Singh, its Director-Government and Regulatory Affairs.

In July last year, India's drug regulator granted market authorization to Serum Institute of India's indigenously developed HPV vaccine. It has also been cleared by government advisory panel National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) for use in the public health programme.

Currently, India is completely dependent on foreign manufacturers for HPV vaccines. The vaccines are extremely expensive as each dose is priced at more than 4,000. In contrast, the "CERVAVAC" vaccine would cost 200 to 400, Poonawalla had said in September 2022

India, which is home to about 16 % of the world's women, accounts for about a quarter of all cervical cancer incidences and nearly a third of global cervical cancer deaths. Indian women face a 1.6% lifetime cumulative risk of developing cervical cancer and a 1% cumulative death risk from cervical cancer, according to officials.

Recent estimates state that every year almost 80,000 women develop cervical cancer and 35,000 die in India due to it. On what prevented India from introducing the HPV vaccine till now, NTAGI chief Dr N K Arora had said that the vaccine supply has been a limiting factor globally.

Fortunately, over the last five years, the global supply of the HPV vaccine has been improving gradually.

(With inputs from agencies)

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