New Delhi: Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, inaugurated India’s first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) on Monday, 28th December. The vaccine ‘Pneumosil’ has been developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with partners like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a press statement from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
Recognising SII as the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by number of doses and its contribution to India’s economy, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan remarked that Serum Institute’s vaccines are used in 170 countries and every third child in the world is immunised with the manufacturer’s vaccine. He reminded the audience that SII developed and got the license for the first indigenous Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) from the Government of India during the Covid-19 pandemic lock-down, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. He also mentioned the efforts of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in this endeavour to make India self-reliant in PCV.
Detailing the achievements of the Serum Institute in tailoring a vaccine for India’s needs, Health Minister Vardhan said, “Serum Institute’s first Indigenous Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine will be available in the market under the brand name ‘Pneumosil’ at an affordable price in a single dose (vial and pre-filled syringe) and Multidose (vial) presentations. 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, based on which Pneumosil has been licensed by the Drugs Controller General (India) in July 2020 after approval from the Subject Expert Committee (SEC).”
Speaking on the Prime Minister’s commitment of Atmanirbhar Bharat and his vision of ‘Making In India for the World’, Health Minister Vardhan noted, “Pneumosil is an example of India’s capability in research & development and manufacturing high-end sophisticated vaccines. In fact, it is a matter of pride for our country for this historical milestone during the Covid-19 pandemic because till now we are fully dependent on Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine manufactured by foreign manufacturers which are available at very high prices.” He took the occasion to remind the audience that pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death among children under five years of age worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 lakh deaths globally every year.
Congratulating the country’s scientific and medical fraternity, the Health Minister said, “I am sure that the team of Serum Institute of India and others in the entire scientific and medical community will continue their endeavour to develop many more life-saving vaccines in future.”
Dr. Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary (MoHFW) and other senior officials of the Ministry were present at the event, as per the Health Ministry. Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman, Poonawalla Group of Industries and Founder, Serum Institute of India; Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, SII were also present.
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