On September 1, Union Minister, Dr. Jitendra Singh ,announced the completion of India’s first indigenously developed Cervavac- quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer in India. Hope grows as India has been fully dependent on foreign manufacturers for the HPV vaccine but this first indigenously developed qHPV vaccine could be a real opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer which causes a lot of death and suffering worldwide among women by providing a more affordable protection against one of the most common cancers in women.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that India bears a fifth of the globe’s cervical cancer burden, with 1.23 lakh new cases and 67,000 fatalities per year. By producing antibodies against HPV, this vaccination prevents the 6, 11, 16, and 18 strains, according to the government analysis.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix . All women are at risk for cervical cancer. Although the exact origin of cervical cancer is unknown, mos of the cervical cancer cases are linked to infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV), an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, an estimated 570 000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 311 000 women died from the disease.
CERVAVAC: The Indian Vaccine
The first indigenous qHPV vaccine, Cervavac was developed with the collaboration of the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology and the Serum Institute of India.
In India, cervical cancer accounts for the majority of all cancers. It is one of the most common cancers in India and the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in low- and middle-income countries. In spite of the availability of HPV vaccines and affordable and effective methods for early detection and treatment of cervical cancer precursor lesions, cervical cancer still continues to be a public health problem in India. A wide variation in survival rates is also observed between rural and urban India. This could be because Indian registries suffer from the problem of under-reporting of deaths, which is more pronounced in rural areas. In addition, the lack of health infrastructure in rural India results in lower survival rates as compared to urban areas. Specific types of oncogenic HPV-16, 18 have been identified in patients with cervical cancer. Other epidemiological risk factors are early age at marriage, multiple sexual partners, multiple pregnancies, poor genital hygiene, malnutrition, use of oral contraceptives, and lack of awareness.
The high burden of cervical cancer in India and Southeast Asian countries is due to poor to moderate living standards, a high prevalence of HPV (more than 10% in women aged more than 30 years) and due to lack of screening. Effective primary (HPV vaccination) and secondary prevention approaches (screening for, and treating precancerous lesions) will prevent most cervical cancer cases. Celebrating the scientific completion of the qHPV vaccine, the experts highlighted that decade-long efforts have gone towards achieving the scientific completion of Cervavac which could be a ‘major milestone’ in cervical cancer prevention.The vaccine protects girls and women against cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer.Furthermore, both men and women can benefit from the vaccine’s ability to prevent genital warts, anal cancer, and mouth, throat, head, and neck malignancies.
Until now, the HPV vaccines available in India were produced by foreign manufacturers at an approximate cost of Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500 per dose. Cervavac is likely to be significantly cheaper, slated to cost approximately Rs 200 to 400. It has also demonstrated a 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. Vaccination at the appropriate age will help eliminate the risk of the fatal disease. Successful immunization in India will also establish India’s advance in medical research and its leadership in the field of vaccination. The launching of the indigenous HPV vaccine has bolstered the fight against cancer in India.
● The Indian Express
● Times Of India
● Health.Economic.Indian Times