India on Thursday got its first vaccine for H1N1 flu, almost an year after the deadly virus-caused flu was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad launched the vaccine, which he said was the first vaccine developed in independent India.
The vaccine, developed by Gujarat based medicine giant Cadilla Healthcare, will provide immunity from the H1N1 strain of virus, which is a mutation of the swine flu virus.
"We had no experience in production of vaccines, but we managed to make it on time," Azad said.
Cadilla's chairman and managing director Pankaj Patel was the first to take the vaccine followed by Azad.
The vaccine will provide immunity to H1N1 for one year.
"The vaccine has not been tested for very long time period, but it must provide immunity for one year," Patel said, adding the virus changes its strain every year. "So anyhow, another shot of vaccine will be needed after a year."
Besides Cadilla Healthcare, the Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Panacea Biotech were granted research aid for developing an indigenous vaccine for the virus which claimed more than 1,500 lives in last one year in the country.
The vaccine developed by the Serum Institute is likely to hit the market by the end of this month, while Bharat Biotech and Panacea are likely to launch their vaccine by July and August respectively.