First indigenous vaccine against pneumonia to be launched next week
The first indigenous vaccine against pneumonia, developed by Serum Institute of India (SII), is slated to be launched by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and made available in the domestic market early next week, official sources said on Wednesday. Sources say the vaccine will be much more affordable than the existing ones manufactured by two foreign companies, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK).
Clinical trials and use of the vaccine
India's drug regulator in July had granted market approval for the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), after reviewing the phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trial data submitted by the Pune-based firm. "This vaccine is used for active immunization against invasive disease and pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumonia in infants," the Health Ministry had said. SII conducted clinical trials in India and Gambia (Africa).
'We have achieved one more historical milestone during the lockdown'
In a letter addressed to Vardhan, Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government, and Regulatory Affairs at SII said, "Moving toward Prime Minister's clarion call of Atmanirbhar Bharat, we have achieved one more historic milestone during the lockdown period of COVID-19 pandemic by developing India's first world-class indigenous pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and obtained Indian licensure." This is the first indigenously developed vaccine against pneumonia.
The vaccine was pre-qualified by WHO in January
The vaccine, which is administered in an intramuscular manner, was pre-qualified by WHO in January. "Earlier, the demand for such vaccine was substantially met by licensed importers since the manufacturers were all vaccine companies based outside India," the Health Ministry had earlier said.
Currently the country is dependent on imported PCV
UNICEF data says, more than one lakh children under five years die every year in India due to the pneumococcal disease. "Since pneumonia is a respiratory ailment, vaccination of children with the PCV assumes utmost significance during the current COVID-19 pandemic," an official source said. "The country is currently dependent on imported PCV from foreign manufacturers at a very high price," the source added.