India’s first indigenous H1N1 vaccine launched

Vaccine cannot be used by children and pregnant women yet.

sonal

Sonal Matharu | June 3, 2010



Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad launched India’s first indigenous influenza vaccine, called VaxiFlu-S, here on Thursday. The vaccine will be available in the market Friday onwards and would be sold over-the-counter only through prescription. Azad, who took a shot of the vaccine at the press conference, said that this is the first indigenous vaccine manufactured in the country since independence. He added that H1N1 outbreak made him realise that in case of a disease outbreak, the county cannot wait till the vaccine is imported. “Given the size, population and spread of the country, it was not advisable for us to depend on foreign countries for vaccines like this,” he said. The vaccine, manufactured by Ahmedabad based Cadila Healthcare, has been tested on 259 people and would cost Rs 350, as against the imported counterpart which is sold for Rs 1000. It is an egg-based vaccine which means that people allergic to eggs will not be able to take it. People between the ages of 18 to 60 can benefit from this vaccine. It is not advisable for pregnant women and children though. Its side-effects, said Cadila’s chairman and managing director Pankaj R Patel, may include pain at the area where it is injected. He added that the vaccine will provide immunity for a year and Cadila is prepared to improve the vaccine as and when required. Azad said that the 4.5 lakh doses of these vaccines, which are produced at present, are out in time as monsoon and winter seasons are ripe for the growth of the H1N1 virus. He added that he will write to all the chief ministers informing them of the same so that they can protect their health staff. Ironically, this vaccine will not be supplied at any of the government hospitals. Three other companies – Bharat Biotech Ltd. Hyderabad, Panacea Biotech, New Delhi and Serum Institute of India, Pune – will also be out with the H1N1 vaccine by the end of this month. Once there are four manufacturers in the market, the MRP of the vaccine will go down due to competition, Azad said. Few swine flu deaths were recently seen in Kerala and Maharashtra. Globally, there have been more than 18,000 deaths due to H1N1. In India, the death toll for the same was 1531. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan are the four states where the death figures were in triple digits. “When H1N1 was first reported in India, we imported 15 lakh (H1N1) doses and sent them to various states for the health workers. But smaller states showed greater interest in utilising these vaccines. Arunachal Pradesh used 94 percent of the vaccines followed by Daman and Diu which utilised 92 percent of the doses. We now want people to use this indigenous vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza deaths in the country,” said Azad. Seasonal influenza across the globe kills three to five lakh people every year. In most developing countries, the influenza vaccine is inoculated before the onset of different seasons.

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