Pune’s Serum Institute of India (SII) launched its much awaited “cheaper” and “painless” solution against the virus -- a ready-to-sniff intra-nasal vaccine, Nasovac, on Wednesday across the country.
At the launch, Adar Poonawalla, owner and executive director, Serum Institute of India Ltd. stated, “The public’s fear at the height of the pandemic last year was a challenge for India’s healthcare sector.
"Right from the time we started work on the vaccine, we were clear that apart from developing indigenous capability for tackling pandemics, we wanted to provide a painless prevention option for the masses.
“We now have capabilities, in collaboration with global healthcare agencies, to respond with affordable preventive vaccines for pandemic healthcare emergencies anywhere around the world.”
A little about NasovacNasovac, meant for the H1N1 pandemic strain, is a nasal spray in powder form, which has to be reconstituted by adding water.
A single dose of 0.5ml of the vaccine is delivered directly to the nasal cavity
through a device fitted at the top of the syringe.
A quick spray in each nostril and the body develops antibodies to protect against the deadly virus for a period of over a year or even more.
According to experts, the nasal spray may prove to be effective as it takes the same respiratory route as the H1N1 virus. It has the efficiency to fight H1N1 infection even if small changes occur in the virus.
After vaccination, some negligible or very mild reactions may be experienced for two to three days.
Safety and efficacy assessedThe safety and efficacy of the vaccine was assessed through clinical trials on more than 300 human subjects in the country.
The vaccine has been approved by the Drug Controller of India (DCGI) and can be safely administered to any individual above three years.
However, SII is not recommending the vaccine for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman, SII stated, "Our recommendation is that it (Nasovac) should not be administered to pregnant and lactating women, besides children below three years.
"But the medical fraternity says this decision should be left to them. They think that if the women are in a high-risk area, they should be vaccinated. So we have no objection, but it is better that if these vaccines are not given to them.”
Economically pricedIn order to increase its commercial use among the masses, Nasovac is economically priced.
SII has set a sale target of 20-25 million doses in first year.
In addition, SII donated vaccines worth Rs 10 crore to various hospitals, NGOs, and the underprivileged.
Mansoor Ahmed, marketing director, SII, said, “The product will be available across the country in the next few days. It is priced at Rs. 158 per dose and available in the 5-vial pack for Rs. 790.
“As of now, we have the capacity to make 50 million doses. But this can be scaled up in the coming months to 150 million or even 200 million doses if needed. As of now, we are only concentrating on the Indian market and will address the export market later."