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, sources said on Wednesday. According to the sources, the vaccine will be much more affordable than existing ones manufactured by two foreign companies.
India's drug regulator in July had granted market approval for the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate vaccine, after reviewing the phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trial data submitted by the Pune-based firm. This vaccine is used for active immunisation against invasive disease and pneumonia caused by "Streptococcus pneumonia" in infants, the health ministry had said earlier.
Serum Institute has conducted the phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in India and African nation Gambia. "This is the first indigenously developed vaccine in the field of pneumonia," an official source said.
The vaccine will be much more affordable than existing ones produced by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK), the sources said. "It has always been our endeavour to fulfil our prime minister's dream for 'vocal for local' and 'Making in India' for the world. "Moving towards prime minister's clarion call of Atmanirbhar Bharat, we have achieved one more historical 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," stated a letter written by Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII) addressed to Vardhan.
As per UNICEF data, more than one lakh children under the age of five years die every year in India due to the pneumococcal disease. Since pneumonia is a respiratory ailment, hence vaccination of children with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) assumes utmost significance during the current COVID-19 pandemic, an official source said. The country is currently dependent on imported PCV of foreign manufacturers at a very high price, the source said.
The vaccine which is administered in an intramuscular manner was prequalified by WHO in January. Earlier, the demand of such vaccine was substantially met by licensed importers in the country since the manufacturers were all vaccine companies based outside India, the health ministry had earlier said.