India has come a long way as far as the fatality of diseases is concerned. And the nation is all set to take a big leap in its fight against the menace of cervical cancer, the most prominent form of cancer in the feminine gender, and that too with an indigenously developed vaccine.
The widespread menace of cervical cancer and the societal ignorance of the disease has cost many lives, the major factor for the spread is lack of awareness. Cervical cancer is caused by HPV, Human Papillomavirus, which is a sexually transmitted infection responsible for causing warts.
The menace of cervical cancer
To the best of knowledge available, Cervical cancer is preventable if diagnosed early and managed effectively. Still, this form of cancer kills one woman every eight minutes in the country. This was about India which accounts for about a fifth of the global burden, with 1.23 lakh cases and 67,000 deaths per year, as per the data of WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO).
In the world as well, Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer type and the second most common cause of cancer death in women between the ages of 15-44.
The two vaccines available in India were Gardasil of Merck and Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline, which were quadrivalent and bivalent respectively. However, both of them were out of reach of the common mass due to their high cost. Each dose costs Rs 2,800 per dose of Gardasil and Rs 3,299 of Cervavrix. The major issue of cervical cancer will be addressed by the new vaccine.
The HPV vaccination has been introduced back in 2008, it has not been included in the national immunisation programme, that too is all set to change for the good.
India ready with indigenous vaccine
The Serum Institute of India (SII) is ready with an easily affordable cervical cancer vaccine named Cervavac.
Cervavac is India’s first quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine, which is based on VLP (virus like particle), which makes it similar to the hepatitis B vaccine. These kinds of vaccines develop immunity against a particular disease by generating antibodies against the virus’ protein, against the HPV virus’ L1 protein in this case. The vaccine prevents infections from four strains that will provide protection against 90 per cent of the infections.
As per reports, the central government taking the issue into cognisance has decided to roll out the Cervavac vaccine as part of the national immunisation programme by the end of the year.
India will soon eliminate Cervical Cancer with Cervavac Vaccine
The vaccine had received the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) approval for market authorisation in the second week of July. Before the DGCI, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTGAI) had given its nod to the vaccine after going through the trial data.
The approval is all set to help the government to procure the vaccines at a special price that will in turn benefit nearly 50 million girls who will be vaccinated under government schemes. Vaccination at the appropriate age will help eliminate the risk of the fatal disease. The additional benefit of SII vaccine is that, through it the vaccination can be started at a relatively younger age that is 9.
The SII owner, CEO Adar Poonawalla, told the press, “In particular, this vaccine is very important for adolescent girls as teenagers and upwards to protect them against cervical cancer.”
Cervical cancer is preventable and its laudable that finally the Government of India has turned its head towards it.
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