Recently, India’s first fully indigenously developed pneumococcal conjugate vaccine “Pneumosil” has been launched by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
The vaccine is developed by Serum Institute of India (SII), through collaboration with PATH and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by doses, SII is also the maker of Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine. PATH is an international, non-profit global health organization based in Seattle (USA). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is an American private foundation, founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. Based in Seattle, Washington, the primary goals of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty across the globe, and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the USA.
- The vaccine targets the pneumococcal bacterium, which causes pneumonia and other serious life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and sepsis.
- These diseases are estimated to cause nearly four lakh deaths in children under five years of age each year worldwide.
- Pneumococcal disease is a significant contributor under-five mortality rate worldwide.
- While pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) have helped reduce pneumococcal deaths, they are difficult for many countries to afford.
- ‘Pneumosil’ would be available either as a single dose in a vial and pre-filled syringe or as multidose in vials at affordable prices.
- The unique feature of the vaccine is its composition, which is specially tailored to the prevailing serotype prevalence of Pneumoniae in India and other regions of the world.
- A serotype or serovar is a distinct variation within a species of bacteria or virus or among immune cells of different individuals.
- It was licensed by the Drugs Controller General (India) in July 2020.
Pneumosil has been extensively evaluated in five 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.
Previously, India was fully dependent on Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines (PCV) manufactured by Foreign Manufacturers which are available at very high prices. But with this breakthrough development in Research & Development, India is being applauded globally.
About Pneumococcal Disease
- Pneumococcal disease is a name for any infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus.
- The bacteria is the most common cause of bloodstream infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and middle ear infections in young children.
- Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Many different bacteria, viruses, and even fungi can cause pneumonia. Pneumococcus is one of the most common causes of severe pneumonia.
- Annually, India witnesses an estimated 71% of pneumonia deaths and 57% of severe pneumonia cases.
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pneumonia accounts for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years.