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Cervical cancer vaccine drive

  • Published
    13th Jan, 2024

Context:

The decision to vaccinate against cervical cancer is positive, offering a potential solution to a prevalent health issue among Indian women.

Introduction of Cervical Cancer Vaccination Campaign

  • Government's Initiative: The Centre plans to launch a cervical cancer vaccination drive in Q2, aiming to inoculate girls aged nine to 14.
  • Significance of the Move: India, hosting a significant burden of cervical cancer cases globally, welcomes the crucial public health initiative against the second-most common cancer among women.
  • Indigenous Solution: Serum Institute's indigenous vaccine, Cervac, developed to combat cervical cancer, is a key component of the vaccination campaign.

Challenges and Opportunities in Mass Inoculation

  • Manufacturing Capacity and Cost: Serum Institute currently produces 20-30 lakh doses annually, but the vaccine's high cost at Rs 2,000 per shot poses accessibility challenges.
  • Awareness and Mass Vaccination Drive: The lack of awareness about cervical cancer necessitates a mass vaccination campaign targeting girls aged nine to 14, potentially transforming the healthcare landscape.
  • HPV and Global Strategies: Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes 85% of cervical cancer cases; global strategies involving vaccination and screenings have been successful but face challenges in India.

Approval, Production Upscaling, and Future Outlook

  • Cervac Approval and Antibody Response: Cervac gained approval in 2022, exhibiting an encouraging antibody response in clinical trials, 1,000 times more than baseline requirements against all HPV variants.
  • SII's Track Record and Crisis Response: Serum Institute's commendable track record during the pandemic showcases its capabilities in upscaling production; health authorities closely monitor future developments with optimism.
  • Hope for a Healthier Future: With Cervac's approval and India's successful public health campaigns, the collective efforts against cervical cancer offer hope for a healthier future.
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