India has launched its first indigenously developed vaccine, “CERVAVAC” for the prevention of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most prevalent cancers in India and accounts for nearly one-fourth of the world’s cervical cancer deaths despite being largely preventable.
Current estimates indicate that every year approximately 1.25 lakhs women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 75 thousand die from the disease in India, and 83 % of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPVs 16 or 18 in India, and 70% of cases worldwide.
The most promising intervention for preventing cervical cancer is vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV). It is estimated that HPV types 16 and 18 (HPV-16 and HPV-18) together contribute to approximately 70% of all invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide.
‘CERVAVAC’ is an outcome of a partnership of DBT and BIRAC with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supported by Serum Institute of India Private Limited for the indigenous development of quadrivalent vaccine through its partnership programme ‘Grand Challenges India’.
A number of key initiatives are currently being implemented to promote basic and translational vaccine research, including the (i) Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme, (ii) National Biopharma Mission, (iii) Ind-CEPI Mission, and (iv) Mission COVID Suraksha, which was launched as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0, with the goal of bringing safe, efficacious, affordable and accessible indigenous COVID 19 vaccines to the citizens of the country at the earliest.