Pune, 30th January 2024: A groundbreaking vaccine for ovarian cancer has been introduced to the market and is poised to be included in the universal vaccination program within the next six months, contingent on sufficient production, according to Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, the founder of the Serum Institute of India.
Speaking at a press conference held at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), Dr. Poonawalla outlined the plans to enhance the production capacity of the cancer vaccine to one crore units. Currently, the production stands at 50 lakh units and is expected to double in the coming months.
“We are committed to scaling up the production of the cancer vaccine, and if we meet the government’s production targets, it will be readily available for universal vaccination,” Dr. Poonawalla stated. He also addressed concerns about the cost of the vaccine, noting that the increased production would contribute to a reduction in its price.
The cancer vaccine, known as Carvavac, is a preventive measure against ovarian cancer in women. Internationally, it is administered to women between the ages of nine and 26, while in India, it is permitted for girls aged nine to 14. Dr. Poonawalla emphasized that the vaccine is beneficial for both women and men.
Against the backdrop of this groundbreaking development, attention has been drawn to the alarming prevalence of cervical cancer in India. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, and nearly one-fourth of cervical cancer deaths worldwide occur in India. According to the World Health Organization’s 2022 report, more than 75,000 women in India have died from cervical cancer, with an estimated 85,241 cases expected in 2025.
These statistics underscore the urgent need for comprehensive preventive measures, including vaccination programs, to combat cervical cancer.
Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla also addressed the ongoing challenges in encouraging the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the development of a serum effective against new variants, vaccine hesitancy prevails due to a reduction in the severity of the disease.
“New variants of the coronavirus continue to emerge, and we have developed a vaccine serum to counteract them. However, the decreased severity of the disease has led to a decline in the willingness of individuals to take the vaccine,” Dr. Poonawalla revealed. He further highlighted that there is a surplus of COVID-19 vaccine serum, underscoring the need for increased public awareness about the importance of vaccination.
The Serum Institute of India is actively working towards addressing these challenges, emphasizing the critical role of vaccines in preventing and controlling various diseases, including cancer and COVID-19.