Health Ministry launches India's first fully indigenous pneumococcal vaccine

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Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. (File Photo)
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], December 28 (ANI): Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Monday inaugurated India's first Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in a bid to prevent about 67,800 child mortality under 5 years of age in India from pneumococcal diseases every year.

The vaccine is developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Pneumococcal disease is a significant contributor to the under-five mortality rate worldwide.

Calling it as a step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, Vardhan said that so far, India was fully dependent on PCV manufactured by foreign manufacturers which are available at very high prices.

"It is a matter of great pride for us that the pharma major developed the first indigenous vaccine and got a license for the same from Central government during COVID-19 pandemic lock-down period. Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death among children under five years of age worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 lakhs deaths globally," he said,

The government said that the PVC will be available in the market under the brand name "Pneumosil" at an affordable price in a single dose (vial and pre-filled syringe) and multidose (vial) presentations. "Pneumosil has been extensively evaluated in 5 randomised controlled clinical trials and has demonstrated comparable safety and immunogenicity against licensed pneumococcal vaccines across diverse populations of India and Africa, where Pneumosil was administered to adults, toddlers and infants using different vaccination schedules."

During clinical trials, Pneumosil was found to be safe and effective in the prevention of pneumonia disease and based on which Pneumosil has been licensed by Drugs Controller General (India) in July 2020 after approval from Subject Expert Committee (SEC), the Union Minister said.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, said: "Over the years, we have been constantly working to provide high-quality vaccines to ensure excellent immunisation coverage to children and families worldwide. Now, we have developed this PCV with a unique composition based on the serotype prevalence in India. This makes our PCV an ideal choice for protecting our children from pneumococcal disease. While the vaccine itself is of the highest quality and grade available, vaccine accessibility is of utmost importance as well, and to ensure ease of access by making it available at an affordable price. We hope to bring down the mortality rate significantly while also making our country self-sufficient with a robust public health care system."

In 2018, recognising the disease widespread fatality, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the inclusion of PCV in routine childhood immunisation programs in all countries. (ANI)