Japanese Encephalitis vaccine launched

Japanese Encephalitis vaccine launched

An indigenous vaccine against Japanese Encephalitis – more effective than an imported Chinese vaccine currently in government use – was launched on Friday with the manufacturer looking beyond Indian market because of a very low price offer from the health ministry.

Developed under private-public partnership between Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research, the vaccine was made from a strain of JE virus found in Kolar in the early 1980s and kept in a refrigerator at the National Institute of Virology, Pune for 25 years.

“The vaccine has been found effective against the commonest JE strain found in India (type-3) as well as an emerging strain (type-1). It gives 96 per cent protection with single dosage and 98 per cent with two doses,” Krishna M Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech told Deccan Herald.

The indigenous vaccine is more effective than the imported Chinese vaccine, which the central government procures at the moment to fight encephalitis deaths of thousands of children in vast tracts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

“This is definitely better than the Chinese product. Regular supply from the Chinese producer is a key issue for us, which could be taken care of if the government buys this vaccine. Our annual requirement is almost 10 million doses as JE is found in 171 districts,” said Vishwa Mohan Katoch, ICMR chief.

However, the health ministry is yet to take a call on procuring the Bharat Biotech vaccine as the two sides could not agree on the price.
The vaccine would be priced at Rs 250 a dose in the open market with two doses (Rs 500) required for full protection.

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