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Government plans global tender for HPV vaccine : The Tribune India

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18

With cancer of the cervix caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) overtaking maternal mortality as the single largest preventable cause of death among Indian women, hectic efforts are underway to speed up the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the national immunisation programme.

The government is learnt to be planning to float a global tender for more than 16 crore doses in January 2023, with the stakeholder meetings underway.

One such meeting was held this week with the participation of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which has developed an indigenous shot, and pharmaceutical company Merck, which has its own HPV vaccine.

The government has to study the feasibility of the introduction of the vaccine in the national vaccination drive.

National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation chairman NK Arora has said the vaccine would be rolled out in the national programme by the middle of next year.

Meanwhile, SII’s and Biotechnology Department’s collaborative indigenous HPV vaccine — Cervevac — has passed safety tests after a large multi-centric trial.

“The vaccine is affordable, highly effective and safe. Early screening of cervical cancer is a major strategy for prevention of the disease, but screening alone is not enough. Widespread immunisation with the HPV vaccine is highly effective in reducing the impact of cervical cancer and other cancers caused by HPV. The newly developed Cervevac can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if given before the girls or women are exposed to the virus,” says Neerja Bhatla, head of gynaecology at AIIMS, New Delhi.

The WHO strategy to eliminate cervical cancer sets certain targets for 2030, including vaccination of 90%of the girls by 15 years of age, screening 70% of women by an effective test such as the HPV and ensuring treatment of 90% of precancerous and cancerous lesions.

Protection against cervical cancer

At present, 453 million Indian women aged 15 and above are at the risk of developing cervical cancer. They can be protected with the administration of HPV vaccine before they develop the infection.


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