India's own nasal H1N1 vaccine for Rs 160/shot
Wednesday was a big day in the country's pharmaceutical history when the first indigenous intra-nasal vaccine was launched in Mumbai. Its Pune-based makers insisted that a dose of 0.5ml of the vaccine Nasovac â€” delivered directly to the nasal cavity â€” would guard the person against the worrisome H1N1 virus for a period of over a year or even two.
But the painless vaccine may be of no use to the sections who are most vulnerable to the H1N1 virus, namely pregnant women, infants and people with compromised immunity who are the worst affected. "The nasal vaccine is safe and easy to administer and meant for children over three years of age as well as for the elderly," said Serum Institute of India executive director (operations) Adar C Poonawalla at Wednesday's launch.
Swine flu has killed over 1,000 people across the country since its entry in May 2009. It was almost inactive in the summer months before returning a month ago, killing 19 people. It remains to be seen whether the Rs-160-for-a-shot nasal vaccine will be widely used or stay in the cold storage like its conventional counterpart â€” the injectable swine flu vaccine that was introduced in the market over two months ago.
Nasovac is the culmination of long R&D work for Indian scientists. After getting the â€˜donor virus' from WHO, they have worked on creating the vaccine. "We have conducted clinical trials on 380 people, including children, the young and the elderly, and found it to be safe, without major side effects and efficacious," said the company's medical director Prasad Kulkarni.