New partnership to bolster global supply of HPV vaccines will save 1.4 million women from cervical cancer

TogetHER joins the global health community in praising a joint collaboration between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO, UNICEF, and a global cadre of vaccine manufacturers to ensure that 84 million girls will be immunized in the next five years against human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer.

The new supply partnership is a component of a UNICEF-led tender, and was announced at Gavi’s recent replenishment event held in the United Kingdom. Vaccine industry partners include GSK and MSD – the two current manufacturers of HPV vaccines – as well as the Serum Institute of India and the Chinese companies Innovax and Walvax.

The commitment will boost the number of girls Gavi plans to immunize against HPV from 50 million to 84 million, and is projected to prevent 1.4 million deaths from cervical cancer.

Expanding access to the cost-effective HPV vaccine is a critical element of the WHO’s proposed strategy for the global elimination of cervical cancer. The expansion of supply to cover 84 million girls is an unprecedented achievement, but more must be done to fully vaccinate 90% of girls worldwide with HPV vaccine before 15 years of age, as outlined in WHO’s cervical cancer elimination strategy.

Further, vaccination alone will not lead to elimination. Screening and treatment of precancerous lesions must also be made available to women who are still at risk of HPV infection worldwide, especially in low-resource settings, where nearly 90% of cervical cancer cases now occur.

No woman needs to die from cervical cancer, a preventable, treatable disease. Multisectoral partnerships such as this one offer promise to scale up proven tools that can save women’s lives. We applaud these global efforts and look forward to seeing the initiative move forward to implementation.