H1N1 cases up,but no takers for vaccine

Swine flu has claimed hundreds of lives in the city and across the country but there are few takers for its vaccine.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: March 16, 2012 12:48 am

Serum Institute of India has been unable to sell even a single dose in the last 6 months

Swine flu has claimed hundreds of lives in the city and across the country but there are few takers for its vaccine. Serum Institute of India which developed the country’s first indigenous intra-nasal vaccine against swine flu has been unable to sell its single dose in the last six months. Officials are now cautious to get into production of the vaccine at Serum,citing no demand.

Officials are waiting for a permission from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) office to start phase 2 clinical trial for the trivalent vaccine that includes protection against H1N1 virus as well. Dr Rajiv Dhere,senior director of Serum Institute,told The Indian Express that the organisation has learnt that people do not really buy the vaccine. In the past,we had to destroy millions of doses of the intra-nasal flu vaccine and even now we have a few thousand doses left which will expire by the month-end. With no demand or request from the state authorities,these doses will also be destroyed.

Dhere said,“It is not a pandemic situation and frankly it is not advised that one should vaccinate only when the disease strikes. It is essential to get vaccinated earlier and the government should take up such programmes. We do have semi-finished products of the vaccine that can be developed and sold only if we see a huge demand.” Another 50,000 doses of the injectable vaccine also have no takers.

The Serum Institute officials are now awaiting permission from the DCGI office to start the second phase of clinical trials for its first-ever intra-nasal trivalent seasonal flu vaccine. A trivalent seasonal flu vaccine was a logical extension of the swine flu vaccine,said Dr Prasad Kulkarni,medical director at Serum Institute. The vaccine protects against H1N1 virus,H3N2 and Influenza B virus in one intra-nasal shot.

Dr Renu Bharadwaj,professor of microbiology at B J Medical College said,one of the reasons for increase in infections could be that herd immunity against the virus had not reached hundred per cent.

2nd swine flu death in city

Pune registered another swine flu death on Thursday. Autorickshaw driver Shrikant Gangaram Shinde (50) died in Bibvewadi. According to Dr Sanjay Lalwani,Medical Director at Bharati Hospital,the patient was admitted on March 6. He was shifted to Bharati Hospital from Chintamani Hospital. The patient’s relatives had been informed about his condition despite supportive treatment for H1N1. “He continued to be in a critical state and his state gradually worsened and as the blood pressure dropped he died at 3.15 pm on Thursday,” Lalwani said.

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