Archive for June 5th, 2010

India Launches Indigenous Vaccine to Fight Swine Flu

India will no longer be dependent on imports to fight the dreaded swine flu as the country on Thursday unveiled its first indigenous vaccine to fight the virus which was responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in the country apart from killing over 18,000 globally.

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So far India has been importing the vaccine from French company, Sanofi Pasteurs for health workers and other high-risk people only. The first indigenous vaccine was launched by Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad the union health minister on Thursday. Mr. Azad also was the first to be vaccinated with the indigenous vaccine produced by Zydus Cadilla.

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Earlier the government had handed over the mandate for developing the vaccine to four Indian firms including Serum Institute (Pune), Cadila Healthcare (Ahmedabad), Bharat Biotec (Delhi) and Panacea Biotech (Hyderabad). Out of this the Government has already placed orders for the vaccine with three companies. In addition to Cadilla, Pune based Serum Institute is also expected to start production of the vaccine by the end of this month.

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However, Serum Institute is expected to produce a nasal drop version of the vaccine while the one developed by Zydus Cadilla is in the injectable form. Speaking on the matter to the media Drug controller general of India, Mr. Surinder Singh said, “The nasal vaccine would be a de-activated vaccine while the injectable one is an activated one”.

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Speaking on the occasion Mr. Azad said that he would be writing to the various chief ministers and health ministers of all states, requesting them to use the vaccine on their health workers. He also used the occasion to request the general population to use the vaccine, which will be available from Friday at a price of Rs 350 per dose.

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Speaking on the matter Cadilla, CMD, Mr. Pankaj Patel pointed out that the vaccine has been clinically tested on 269 people and nearly 4.5 lakh doses will be available in the market in the first batch. Meanwhile, Mr. Singh has pointed out that the vaccine is safe and has only minor side effects such as nominal fever, stomach upset and local pain. On the other hand Mr. Azad has pointed out that though the H1N1 virus is on a decline in India, but the upcoming monsoon and winter seasons may see a rise in the number of cases.