Biological E. Ltd today launched the county’s first indigenous vaccine JEEV to tackle Japanese encephalitis.
Priced at Rs 985, the vaccine will be available in the private domestic market.
The Hyderabad-based vaccine producer has built an initial capacity of producing 10 million doses. It will be up scaled in tune with demand and once the export licences are obtained.
The company has invested up to Rs 400 crore in a modern vaccine production facility on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Vaccines for tetanus, diptheria, Hib, JE etc. are produced here.
It company has supplied 200 million doses of these vaccines through the UNICEF to various countries.
Japanese encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue. It is caused due to infection caused by a mosquito bite, which carries the virus. At present, there is no strong anti-viral therapy. Vaccination is considered the most effective weapon.
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that belongs to the genus Flavivirus and is closely related to West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses.
JEV is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, primarily Culex species. Wading birds are the main animal reservoir for the virus, but the presence of pigs greatly amplifies the transmission of JEV.
Humans are a dead-end host in the JEV transmission cycle.
JEV is the most common cause of encephalitis in Asia, occurring throughout most of Asia and parts of the western Pacific (Map 2-5). JEV has not been locally transmitted in Africa, Europe, or the Americas.
JEV transmission principally occurs in rural agricultural areas, often associated with rice production and flooding irrigation. In some areas of Asia, these ecologic conditions may occur near or occasionally within urban centers.
In temperate areas of Asia, transmission is seasonal, and human disease usually peaks in summer and fall. In the subtropics and tropics, seasonal transmission varies with monsoon rains and irrigation practices and may be extended or even occur year-round.
In endemic countries, JE is primarily a disease of children. However, travel-associated JE can occur among persons of any age.
According to the WHO, about 15,000 people die annually due to the after-effects of Japanese encephalitis. In India, more than 8,000 confirmed cases were recorded in 2011 of whom, 1,100 died.
Inactivated vaccines are considered to have better safety profile compared to live vaccines.
JEEV is a second generation inactivated vaccine. Its safety has been established in trials and is licensed by the Drug Controller General of India. Intercell’s vaccine, which formed the basis for the technology transfer to BE, is licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration.