NEW DELHI, Sept 1: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today launched India’s first indigenously developed vaccine, “CERAVAC” for the prevention of Cervical Cancer.
Announcing the scientific completion of the quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine in presence of Adar C. Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, Pune and other prominent scientists and dignitaries, Dr Jitendra Singh said, this affordable and cost-effective vaccine marks an important day for DBT and BIRAC as it takes India a step closer to PM Modi’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
The Minister pointed out that Cervical Cancer ranks as the 2nd most prevalent cancer in India and accounts for nearly one-fourth of the world’s cervical cancer deaths despite being largely preventable. He said, current estimates indicate that every year approximately 1.25 lakhs women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 75 thousand die from the disease in India, and 83 % of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPVs 16 or 18 in India, and 70%of cases worldwide. The Minister said, the most promising intervention for preventing cervical cancer is vaccination against human papilloma virus(HPV). It is estimated that HPV types 16 and 18 (HPV-16 and HPV-18) together contribute to approximately 70% of all invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide.
Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that COVID has awakened us to the virtues of preventive healthcare, particularly in a society like India having less awareness of preventive Medicare due to various socio-economic factors. He said, thanks to schemes like Ayushman, which allowed the poor, lower section of the society and the vulnerable population to indulge in the luxury of preventive medicine and preventive healthcare by getting insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh.
Referring to Modi’s visit to Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India in Pune in November, 2020, to personally review the vaccine development and manufacturing process for Covid, Dr Jitendra Singh said, Prime Minister then underlined that “India considers vaccines as not only vital to good health but also as a global good, and it is India’s duty to assist other countries, including the nations in our neighbourhood, in the collective fight against the virus”.
Dr Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary, DBT said, this is a celebration of collective efforts of all stakeholders and added that partnerships with industry are becoming incredibly important for doing R&D, which requires huge funding.
Dr N. Kalaiselvi, DG, CSIR in her address said that the cancer vaccine will help Indian women and women across the globe in major ways and we may see in near future the version 1, 2 and 3 of “CERAVAC”, as technologies are short lived.
Adar C. Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, Pune said in his brief address said that well being and protection of mother and child is the core philosophy of Serum Institute as only a healthy India can be a productive India.
Dr. Alka Sharma, Senior Adviser, DBT and MD, BIRACgave the welcome address, while Dr Shirshendu Mukherjee, Mission Director, Grand Challenges India and In-Charge, Mission COVID Suraksha, BIRAC delivered the vote of thanks.
Dr. Neerja Bhatla, Prof., Gynaecology and Obstetrics, AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr. N. K. Arora, INCLEN Trust, New Delhi, Dr. Umesh Shaligram, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India, Pune, Dr. Guruprasad R. Medigeshi, Asst. Prof., THSTI, Faridabad, Dr. Devasena Anantharaman, Scientist, RGCB, Thiruvananthapuram also took part in the event.