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India creates a low-cost cervical cancer vaccine

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest vaccine factory in the world, makes the vaccine Cervavac. 

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Symptoms include bleeding in between periods and after sexual intercourse. Foul smelling white discharge and low back pain or lower abdominal pain may also occur. In some cases there may be no symptoms. Treatments currently include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer. According to top medical experts, the majority of the population, including the poorest, would have access to a domestically produced vaccine that protects against cervical cancer, the second-most common type of cancer affecting women in the country. According to a statement released on Tuesday by SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla, the vaccine shot is anticipated to go on sale by the end of 2022.

“Cervavac will make India self-sufficient in controlling female mortality caused by cervical cancer. The government of India will induct it in the national [vaccination] program in a few months,” Poonawalla said.

The human papilloma virus, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer and has the potential to cause other malignancies, is prevented by the vaccine. According to SSI, it will cost between $2.50 and $5 and be available to both men and women. The vaccine will mostly benefit girls between the ages of 9 and 15 or women who are not yet sexually active, according to Dr. Smita Joshi, who is in charge of the SII’s HPV vaccine project.

Joshi says that adult women are less likely to benefit from the vaccine and should instead undergo cervical cancer screenings, especially in conjunction with an HPV test, as well as proper therapy for those who test positive for sexually transmitted HPV.

“If we vaccinate adolescent girls now, its effect on reducing the cancer burden in the country will be seen within three to four decades,” she said.

Even though three very effective foreign-produced HPV vaccines are now available in India, the least expensive of them costs roughly $35 each dosage, according to Dr. Mayoukh Kumar Chakraborty, assistant professor of gynaecology and obstetrics at Kolkata’s KPC Medical College & Hospital.

In a statement, SII explained that it is providing Cervavac for a lower cost in order to support underprivileged children around the world and uphold the company’s “philanthropic ideology.”

The Ministry of Science and Technology in India estimates that 75,000 Indian women die from cervical cancer each year. The COVID-19 pandemic, according to Science and Technology Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, has raised awareness about preventative healthcare, and India can now afford to start producing its own vaccinations.

India creates a low-cost cervical cancer vaccine

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