Cervavac India’s First HPV Vaccine


  • Cervavac is India’s first quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine, and intended to protect women against cervical cancer. The Serum Institute of India (SII)’s vaccine Cervavac recently received the Drugs Controller General of India’s (DGCI) approval for market authorisation.

About Cervical cancer

  • Cervical cancer is preventable, but kills one woman every eight minutes in the country.
  • It is preventable as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.
  • Cervical cancer is a common sexually transmitted infection.
  • Long-lasting infection with certain types of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.

Key Facts on Cervical Cancer

  • Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer type and the second most common cause of cancer death in women of reproductive age (15–44).
  • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO).

    Cervavac India's First HPV Vaccine
    Source: The Quint
  • Screening and vaccination are two powerful tools that are available for preventive cervical cancer. Still there is little awareness among women for prevention of this cancer and less than 10% of Indian women get screened.
  • All women aged 30-49 must get screened for cervical cancer even if they have no symptoms and get their adolescent daughters vaccinated with HPV vaccine.

Existing vaccines

  • Two vaccines licensed globally are available in India — a quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil, from Merck) and a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix, from GlaxoSmithKline).
  • Although HPV vaccination was introduced in 2008, it has yet to be included in the national immunisation programme.

About Cervavac vaccine

  • The vaccine is based on VLP (virus like particles), similar to the hepatitis B vaccine, and provides protection by generating antibodies against the HPV virus’s L1 protein.
  • The DGCI approval will allow the government to procure enough HPV vaccines at a special price to vaccinate nearly 50 million girls aged 9–14 years in India who are waiting to receive the vaccine. This will be a huge step to accelerate cervical cancer elimination in India and globally.

Back to Basics

About Human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection)

  • Caused by a DNA virus from the Papillomaviridae family.
  • Many HPV infections cause no symptoms and 90% resolve spontaneously within two years.
  • In some cases, an HPV infection persists and results in either warts or precancerous lesions.
  • Nearly all cervical cancer is due to HPV and two strains – HPV16 and HPV18 – account for 70% of cases.
  • Testing for HPV is different in men and women.
  • It’s important to note that the HPV DNA test is only available for diagnosing HPV in women. There’s currently no FDA-approved test available for diagnosing HPV in men.

Reference: IE

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