India's first vaccine against cervical cancer launched

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): India’s 1st indigenous cervical cancer vaccine called the Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus vaccine (qHPV) was launched on 1st September 2022.

Key Points:

  • This vaccine was launched by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology Jitendra Singh at IIC Delhi.
  • The vaccine has been developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India (GoI).
  • The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave the market authorization to SII for the production of this indigenously developed vaccine against cervical cancer on 12 July, 2022.
  • This is India's first Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus vaccine (qHPV) against cervical cancer.

About CERVAVAC vaccine:


  • The quadrivalent Human Papilloma Virus (qHPV) vaccine is India's first homemade vaccine against cervical cancer.
  • The native quadrivalent HPV vaccine Cervavac, produced by the SII, offers protection against 4 of the most prevalent high-risk HPV strains, namely 6,11,16, and 18.
  • This vaccination can lower the incidence of cervical cancer by more than 80% and is a more cost-effective option than foreign-grown Cervarix and Gardasil.
  • The advantage of this Indian HPV vaccine to treat cervical cancer in women is both affordable and accessible.
  • At present, India is totally dependent on foreign manufacturers for the HPV vaccine which is very expensive.
  • The vaccination should ideally be administered as soon as possible, ideally no earlier than age 9 and no later than age 26.
  • In 85–90% of cases, the vaccine was found to prevent cervical cancer.
  • After the launch of this vaccine, the government will shortly undertake a nationwide immunisation programme for females between the ages of 9 and 14.

What is Cervical Cancer?

  • Cervical cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer that affects a woman’s reproductive organs.
  • It occurs in the cells of the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
  • his lower part of the uterus is known as the cervix.
  • It is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a group of more than 200 related viruses, some of which are spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • The virus can infect both men and women, leading to cancer if the infection is long-lasting.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all women are at risk for cervical cancer.
  • It occurs most often in women over age 30.

Cause of Cervical cancer:

  • One of the top three most prevalent cancers in women in India is cervical cancer, which is also one of the rare tumours where a virus is truly the cause.
  • Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a group of more than 200 related viruses, some of which are spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The virus can infect both men and women, leading to cancer if the infection is long-lasting.
  • According to the National Cancer Institute, once the HPV invades the cell, it strikes at the mode in which cells communicate, causing the infected cells to multiply faster.
  • While these infected cells are to be stopped by the immune system, they tend to grow quietly.
  • This unchecked growth leads to the development of tumourous cells that end up causing cancer over time.
  • However, if detected early, cervical cancer is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

Cervical Cancer in India:

  • Cervical cancer is the second most common cancers among women in India.
  • Almost 67,000 women die everywhere.
  • According to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO), India records around 1.23 cases of cervical cancer annually.
  • India stands at 5th place in the world in terms reporting cervical cancer.
  • As per Globocan 2020, cervical cancer stood at 9.4% of all cancers and 18.3% of new cancer cases in 2020.
  • During 1990-2016, cervical cancer was the second main factor of cancer deaths for women across 12 Indian states.

About National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP):

  • The National Cancer Control Program (NCCP) was launched by the Indian government's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 1975 as a result of the emergence of cancer as a growing threat to public health.
  • In the beginning, the main focus of the program was prevention as its aim was to educate the population and make detection and diagnosis resources available.
  • Another goal for the program was to increase capacity in the structures already dealing with cancer and address the short fallings of palliative care.
  • The program was subsequently revised between 1984 and 1985 to better set it up for success in its goal of reducing cancer morbidity and mortality in the country, mainly through primary prevention and early detection.
  • Between 1990 and 1991, the cancer control program was decentralised with the introduction of services at the district level.
  • The last revision on the NCCP intervened in 2005.
  • Under the programme, priorities were given to equip existing cancer hospital and institutions and Central assistance of Rs 2.50 lakhs was provided to each cancer institution, in a bid to purchase cobalt machines for radiotherapy.