Pneumosil: India’s First Pneumonia Vaccine

The Serum Institute of India recently unveiled the first indigenously developed Pneumococcal Vaccine called Pneumosil. The vaccine was launched by the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

About the Vaccine

  • Pneumosil was developed through collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH organization. It has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India.
  • The price of Pneumosil is highly inexpensive. It is 2 USD per dose. This is 30% less than the PCV (Pneumonia Conjugate Vaccine) that is currently administered against Pneumonia in India.
  • The Clinical trials of the vaccine was conducted in Gambia and India.
  • Pneumosil is a WHO prequalified vaccine. This means that the vaccine can be procured by both GAVI and United Nations for use in Low Income Countries.
  • Pneumococcus is a complex bacterium with more than 90 serotypes. Pneumosil vaccine will protect against ten of these serotypes.

Significance

India is currently using the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) against Pneumonia. The PCV consumes 50% of the budget allocated to the Universal Immunization Programme. The programme administers twelve vaccines preventing mortality and morbidity in pregnant women and children. The programme is highly supported by funds from GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization). GAVI recently announced that it is to withdraw its support to India as the country is getting close to the threshold level. Thus, Pneumosil vaccine will bring in tremendous benefits in terms of economic and health benefits.

Pneumonia

India accounts to 20% of pneumonia death in the world. 50% of the world annual Pneumococcal child deaths occur in four African and Asian countries. They are India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.

Why is GAVI withdrawing its support to India?

Between 2000 and 2015, GAVI approved 278 million USD for vaccination programme of India. GAVI in 2011 established threshold of 1,500 USD Gross National Income per capita. In 2016, the GNI of India was 1,680 USD, in 2017 it was 1,830 USD, in 2018 it was 2,010 USD and in 2019 it was 2,130 USD. Thus, GAVI has announced that it is withdrawing its funding support to India.

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