New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated India’s first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, “Pneumosil”, which has been developed by the Serum Institute of India. The vaccine would help in preventing about 67,800 child mortality under 5 years of age in India from pneumococcal diseases every year.

The vaccine is developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Pneumococcal disease is a significant contributor to the under-five mortality rate worldwide.

Speaking about the launch, Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday (December 28) called it as a step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, and added that India was fully dependent on PCV manufactured by foreign manufacturers which are available at very high prices.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, said, “It is a great moment of pride to witness Serum Institute take forward the `Make in India` legacy, with the launch of India`s first indigenously developed Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. It is a significant milestone for the country`s public health care which will ensure that children are protected better against Pneumococcal disease with an affordable and high-quality vaccine.”

“I am sure, Serum Institute of India will continue their endeavour to develop many more life-saving vaccines in the future also on the lines of the clarion call of our Hon`ble Prime Minister “VOCAL FOR LOCAL” and fulfill our Hon`ble Prime Minister`s dream `ATMANIRBHARBHARAT`,” he added.

Union Health Minister said, “It is a matter of great pride for us that the pharma major developed the first indigenous vaccine and got a license for the same from Central government during COVID-19 pandemic lock-down period. Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death among children under five years of age worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 lakhs deaths globally.”

He said, “Pneumosil has been extensively evaluated in 5 randomised controlled clinical trials and has demonstrated comparable safety and immunogenicity against licensed pneumococcal vaccines across diverse populations of India and Africa, where Pneumosil was administered to adults, toddlers and infants using different vaccination schedules.”

During clinical trials, Pneumosil was found to be safe and effective in the prevention of pneumonia disease and based on which Pneumosil has been licensed by Drugs Controller General (India) in July 2020 after approval from Subject Expert Committee (SEC), the Union Minister said.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, told reporters via online conference, “Over the years, we have been constantly working to provide high-quality vaccines to ensure excellent immunisation coverage to children and families worldwide.”

“Now, we have developed this PCV with a unique composition based on the serotype prevalence in India. This makes our PCV an ideal choice for protecting our children from pneumococcal disease. While the vaccine itself is of the highest quality and grade available, vaccine accessibility is of utmost importance as well, and to ensure ease of access by making it available at an affordable price. We hope to bring down the mortality rate significantly while also making our country self-sufficient with a robust public health care system,” he added.

In 2018, recognising the disease widespread fatality, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the inclusion of PCV in routine childhood immunisation programs in all countries.

Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world by doses, announces the launch of India`s first indigenously developed pneumococcal vaccine – PNEUMOSIL, in the presence of Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Monday.

PNEUMOSIL has been developed through a collaboration spanning over a decade among Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd, PATH and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is aimed at improving pneumococcal conjugate vaccine affordability and enabling sustainable access for low-and middle-income countries, read a press statement.

The vaccine will provide effective and long-lasting protection for children against pneumococcal diseases. With this, SII further cements its position as the leader in the conjugate vaccines.

(With Agency Inputs)

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