Bharat Biotech, a leading biotechnology company specializing in vaccines, Monday launched a new vaccine for typhoid that can be given to infants below two years of age and to adults too.
Typbar-TCV is said to be the world's first clinically proven typhoid conjugate vaccine which can provide long term protection to adults as well as children six months old and above.
Krishna M. Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, told the media that the fourth generation vaccines offers hope to millions around the world as the currently available vaccines lack long-term protection and are not meant for children below two years of age.
The Hyderabad-based company has commenced production of the new vaccine. The plant has the capacity to produce 10 million doses annually, expandable to 50 million doses in future.
Typbar-TCV, which will be available in the market in a couple of weeks, will be supplied to global markets such as South East Asia, South America, Africa, Central Asia and South Asia.
The Rs.300 crore company is already the largest producer and supplier of Vi typhoid vaccine, having distributed over 50 million doses globally.
The existing vaccine in India is available for Rs.180 but the new vaccine is going to cost more. Krishna said the price would be announced soon.
The company invested Rs.65 crore to develop the vaccine, which was evaluated in over 1,200 people at nine clinical sites.
Launching the vaccine, Christian Loucq, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), said typhoid every year affects 20 million people and causes 250,000-600,000 deaths, mostly in developing countries.
According to the World Health Organistaion (WHO), 90 percent of typhoid deaths occur in Asia. Most victims are children under five years of age.
Krishna pointed out that 62 percent of the deaths occur in Asia, with India and Pakistan accounting for the highest numbers.
Bharat Biotech gets Rs.40-50 crore of its revenues from the typhoid vaccine launched in 2003. It supplied the vaccine to many countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh where it is part of their national immunization programme.
With the launch of conjugate vaccine, the company hopes to increase the revenue to Rs.100 crore.
Typhoid fever is a life threatening illness caused by the bacterium salmonella typhi, which is transmitted through food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people.
"This disease, unfortunately, has been around for too long. In the 21st century, it is not acceptable any more," said Loucq, the head of Seoul-based institute, which has the mission to develop and deliver safe and affordable vaccines for developing nations.
He said the new vaccine would prove effective against typhoid, which has become drug resistant.
S. Sanjay of the Indian Academy of Pediatricians called for re-including typhoid vaccine in the national immunization programme. He pointed out that it was part of the national immunization chart till 1985.