Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion doses), launched ‘CERVAVAC’ – a vaccine against cervical cancer, and India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine, on 24th January, 2023, on the occasion of India’s National Girl Child Day. January is also Cervical Cancer Awareness month. ‘CERVAVAC’ has been jointly created by the SII and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
Adar Poonawalla, the dynamic CEO of SII, tweeted, “On the occasion of India’s National Girl Child Day and Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, @SerumInstIndia is pleased to launch the first made-in-India HPV vaccine by the hands of our Hon’ble Home Minister Shri @AmitShah Ji.”
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women after breast, lung, and colorectal cancer, with India accounting for nearly a fourth of the world’s cervical cancer deaths. An estimated 1.25 lakh (reported and underreported cases) women are diagnosed with cervical cancer yearly, and over 75,000 succumb to it.
With the launch of the vaccine, the Union Government plans to target girls in the 9-14 years age group for vaccination against cervical cancer with SII keeping the price of the vaccine to around Rs. 200 – Rs. 400 per dose. Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix or the lower-most part of the uterus, where the malignant tumor can be prevented by screening and an HPV vaccine. Upto now, the imported HPV vaccine is only available at private hospitals for Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 4,000 per dose, with two doses required to complete the vaccination.
According to the International Classification of Disease by WHO (2022), in India, 65,978 females were detected with cervical cancer in 2015. The figure climbed to 75,209 in 2017 and is expected to reach 85,241 in 2025.