In a significant stride against the mosquito-borne illness chikungunya, French biotech company Valneva has secured approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for its vaccine, Ixchiq. This marks a groundbreaking moment as it becomes the first licensed vaccine globally to combat this viral disease. The company now sets its sights on making this innovative vaccine available in India, with plans to collaborate with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Instituto Butantan in Brazil.
Ixchiq Approval and Global Impact: The USFDA's recent approval of Ixchiq targets individuals aged 18 and above at an increased risk of exposure to the chikungunya virus. This virus, primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, poses a global health threat, with at least 5 million reported cases globally in the past 15 years. The disease, characterized by severe arthritis, fever, and rash, though rarely life-threatening, is debilitating and challenging to treat.
Valneva's Commitment to Accessibility: In response to inquiries about the vaccine's availability in India, Valneva's Chief Medical Officer, Juan Carlos Jaramillo, expressed the company's commitment to making Ixchiq accessible in the country. Through partnerships with CEPI and Instituto Butantan, an agreement signed in January 2021, the aim is to extend the availability of the chikungunya vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. However, specific details about the vaccine's distribution in India, whether through the government's Universal Immunization Programme or the private market, are yet to be finalized.
Regulatory Processes and Timelines: Jaramillo emphasized that the timeline for introducing Ixchiq in India would be determined after regulatory interactions with the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). While the company is diligently working with partners, decisions regarding distribution channels will factor in regulatory timelines and requirements.
Chikungunya in India: Chikungunya's resurgence in India in 2006 and its subsequent impact on public health have been notable. Data from the National Center for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC) under the Union Health Ministry highlights a substantial number of suspected and confirmed cases since 2018. In 2022 alone, there were 1,48,587 suspected and 8,067 confirmed cases across the country.
The USFDA approval of Valneva's Ixchiq heralds a new chapter in the fight against chikungunya, offering hope for those at risk. As Valneva works towards making this groundbreaking vaccine available in India, the collaboration with CEPI and Instituto Butantan underlines the global effort to address infectious diseases. The upcoming regulatory interactions with DCGI will shed light on the timeline for Ixchiq's launch in India, marking a significant step in strengthening the nation's defences against chikungunya