The government is planning to include Serum Institute of India's indigenously-developed Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus vaccine (qHPV) against cervical cancer in the National Immunization Programme.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make an announcement on August 15, sources told PTI. In a recent communication to the Union health ministry, Prakash Kumar Singh, director (government and regulatory affairs) at SII is learnt to have conveyed that the firm can supply one crore doses of qHPV by December.
At present, the country is fully dependent on foreign manufacturers for the HPV vaccine. Three foreign companies manufacture the HPV vaccine of which two firms sell their vaccines in India. Each dose of the jab available in the market cost over Rs 4,000, the sources said.
SII's vaccine is likely to be available at a much affordable rate. "The health ministry is planning to roll out qHPV for girls aged 9-14 years under the National Immunization Programme. The roll out may take up to six months," a source told PTI.
Cervical cancer in India ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. Globally, 6,04,000 women are affected by cervical cancer and 3,42,000 women die. In India every year, 1,22,844 women are affected with cervical cancer of which 67,477 women die.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by vaccinating girls in the age group of 9-14 years with HPV vaccine, the sources said. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on July 12 granted market authorisation to SII to manufacture qHPV.
The phase 2/3 clinical trial of the vaccine has been completed with support of the Department of Biotechnology. The government's advisory panel NTAGI recently approved qHPV after reviewing clinical trial data of the vaccine.
In the application to the DCGI, Singh had stated that qHPV vaccine CERVAVAC has demonstrated robust antibody response that is nearly 1,000 times higher than the baseline against all targeted HPV types and in all dose and age groups.
(With PTI inputs)