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HPV vaccines UPSC NOTE

 What is Cervavac?

  • The Serum Institute of India (SII) developed ‘Cervavac’ and promoted it as an indigenous and affordable vaccine

  • Cervavac uses technique of, deploying virus-like particles (VLPs) produced using recombinant deoxyribose nucleic acid (rDNA) techniques to generate an immune response against human papilloma virus (HPV)  infections

  • The vaccine against cervical cancer is only the second rDNA vaccine in the world using the techniques of the early 1970s, the first being the vaccine against Hepatitis-B.

Controversy surrounding HPV vaccines

  • The Population Based Cancer Registries (PBCR) of India and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have acknowledged the declining trends of cervical cancer prevalence in India and the globe, regardless of vaccine coverage or efficacy. 

  • Therefore, the timing of the overzealous push for ‘universal’ vaccination of girls against HPV does serious injustice to the more justifiable ‘selective’ vaccination of high-risk groups, considering its sexual transmission, unlike air-borne, water-borne or contagious diseases. 

  • An extremely important western assumption behind targeting pre-puberty girls for this vaccine is that teenage girls indulging in promiscuous physical relations and becoming carriers of the virus are a huge risk factor for the entire adult population. 

  • This is a huge moral conundrum in Indian society and even reeks of patriarchy, as men can be carriers too.

  • Also, under the current product patent regime, a locally made DNA vaccine against cervical cancer had to wait for two decades till the expiry of the product patents before its indigenous ‘generic’ version was made available. 

  • The expiry of key patents of the HPV vaccine was recently reported by the World Health Organization

  • Prior to the domestically manufactured vaccine, two prominent multinational vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) were sold in India for ₹4,000 a dose. 

  • Even at about half that price, a domestically manufactured vaccine in the private market remains largely unaffordable, keeping the vaccine out of reach for a large section of the target population

  • Another serious concern is the unavailability of other competing vaccines from domestic players, which could have put downward pressure on the current price of Cervavac.

  • The Cervavac vaccine is currently recommended universally under the government vaccination programme for girls between the ages of nine to 26 at a price of ₹500 for two doses, which is expensive even for the government. 

  • For those who are left out of the government coverage, the retail price of Cervavac will shoot up four-fold to ₹2,000, in a country that has low insurance penetration and catastrophically huge out-of-pocket health expenditures. 


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: HPV vaccines UPSC NOTE
HPV vaccines UPSC NOTE
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