Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday launched India’s first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) with the aim of preventing about 67,800 children under 5 in India each year.
The vaccine is being developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Pneumococcal disease is a major contributor to the under-five mortality rate worldwide.
Calling this as a step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, Vardhan said that until now India has been completely dependent on PCV made by foreign manufacturers which is available at very high prices.
“It is a matter of great pride for us that the pharmaceutical major developed the first indigenous vaccine and obtained a license for the same vaccine from the central government during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children under five worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 lakhs of deaths worldwide, ”he said,
The government has stated that PVC will be commercially available under the brand name “Pneumosil” at an affordable price in a single-dose (vial and pre-filled syringe) and multidose (vial) presentation. “Pneumosil has been extensively evaluated in 5 randomized controlled clinical trials and has demonstrated comparable safety and immunogenicity against approved pneumococcal vaccines in various populations of India and Africa, where Pneumosil has been administered to adults, toddlers and infants using different immunization schedules. “
During clinical trials, Pneumosil was found to be safe and effective in the prevention of pneumonia and on the basis of which Pneumosil was authorized by the Comptroller General of Medicines (India) in July 2020 after the approval of the Committee of Subject matter experts (SEC), said the Union Minister. .
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, said: “Over the years, we have consistently worked to provide high quality vaccines to ensure excellent immunization coverage for children and families around the world. Now we have developed this PCV with a unique composition based on the prevalence of the serotype in India. This makes our PCV an ideal choice to protect our children against pneumococcal disease. Although the vaccine itself is of the highest quality and quality available , accessibility of the vaccine is also of the utmost importance, and to ensure ease of access in it is available at an affordable price. We hope to drastically reduce the death rate while making our country self-sufficient with a health system robust public. “
In 2018, recognizing the widespread mortality from the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the inclusion of PCV in routine childhood immunization programs in all countries.
(With ANI inputs)