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What Is Cervavac?


Union Minister of Science and Technology has announced the scientific completion of Cervavac, India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer.


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Cervavac?
  2. How effective is the new vaccine?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. About Cervical cancer

What is Cervavac?

  • Cervavac was developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in coordination with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • The project to develop the vaccine was implemented by the then secretary of the DBT, Dr. M K Bhan in 2011.
  • Since then, 30 meetings of scientific advisory groups and site visits conducted by DBT have helped review the scientific merit of the entire journey to develop the vaccine.
  • Cervavac received market authorisation approval from the Drug Controller General of India on July 12 this year.

How effective is the new vaccine?

  • Data indicates that the antibodies that form after receiving both doses of the HPV vaccine can last up to six or seven years.
  • The cervical cancer vaccination might not need booster shots, unlike Covid immunizations.
  • Up until now, the HPV vaccines sold in India were made by foreign companies and ran between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,500 per dosage.
  • Cervavac is anticipated to cost between Rs 200 and 400, making it much less expensive.
  • Additionally, it has shown a strong antibody response against all targeted HPV strains in both dose and age groups that is nearly 1,000 times higher than the baseline.

What are the challenges?

  • The biggest task will be in allocating adequate resources and manpower for vaccinating the massive demographic of adolescent girls aged between 9 and 15, to ensure that they are protected from HPV early on.
  • There is a huge need for stepping up awareness about the disease and the vaccine in the community.
  • Unlike Covid and the vaccination programme, there is very little awareness about cervical cancer.
  • Overall awareness and screening is very low in the community and that is a concern. This is a preventable disease and hence a huge awareness programme is required.

About Cervical cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is preventable, but kills one woman every eight minutes in the country.
  • It is preventable as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.
  • Cervical cancer is a common sexually transmitted infection.
  • Long-lasting infection with certain types of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.
  • Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer type and the second most common cause of cancer death in women of reproductive age (15–44).
  • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO).

How common is cervical cancer in India?

  • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year.
  • Almost all cervical cancer cases are linked to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is transmitted through sexual contact.
  • While the body’s immune system usually gets rid of the HPV infection naturally within two years, in a small percentage of people the virus can linger over time and turn some normal cells into abnormal cells and then cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Existing vaccines
  • Two vaccines licensed globally are available in India — a quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil, from Merck) and a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix, from GlaxoSmithKline).
  • Although HPV vaccination was introduced in 2008, it has yet to be included in the national immunisation programme.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023