India is set to procure 7.8 crore doses of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine for newborns, two months after the launch of the nationwide expansion of PCV under the Universal Immunisation Programme to fight pneumonia.
The Union Health Ministry floated a global bid on January 4, with a delivery period between April 2022 and March 2023 for distribution across the country. “For the first time in the country, PCV will be available for universal use. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death among those under 5 years of age, globally and in India. In India, around 16% of deaths in children occur due to pneumonia. The nationwide rollout of PCV will reduce child mortality by 60%,” health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on October 29, at the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ campaign.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) will be the inspection authority of the batches. Every batch proposed to be supplied against the tender would be tested at an approved laboratory, CDL Kasauli, and at the time of supply, the shelf life of vaccine should not have crossed more than six months from the date of manufacturing, the tender document has specified. Preference will be given to local suppliers as per ‘Make in India’ policy.
PCV was introduced in India in 2017 by the Narendra Modi-led government in five states initially and expanded to 14 states early last year. On October 29, the government announced the expansion of PCV to the entire country to cover every child. PCV is recommended to be given in a series of three doses, each of 0.5ml; at 6 weeks, 14 weeks and 9 months. PCV is administered intramuscularly and stored between +2.C and +8.C.
So far, PCV doses have been imported in India from Pfizer and GSK, at a high price of ₹3,801 per dose and ₹2,195 per dose, respectively, as per a report in MoneyControl last year. The GAVI alliance has also helped India.
Serum Institute of India last year announced the launch of the world’s most affordable PCV in India at $3 per dose for public market, and $10 per dose for private market. The government expects each dose to cost around ₹189 per dose, pegging the total cost of the requirement to be nearly ₹1,474 crore.
“The vaccine shall meet the requirements of Drugs and Cosmetics Act if manufactured in lndia. However, in case of international transactions, the vaccine shall meet all requirements of the country of origin and the vaccine shall be registered with the DCGI,” the tender document stated.