As it is known, after the discovery of the contraceptive effect of some hormones, the contraceptive pill was developed and came into use in the 1970s. In 1988, the copper IUD 1 arrived on the family planning market, followed by the hormonal IUD in 2001.

Around 770 million women currently use contraception worldwide, about 18% of whom use hormonal methods, more specifically, the contraceptive pill. However, the World Health Organization estimates that roughly 214 million women of childbearing age who live in developing countries have no access to modern contraceptive methods. The possibility of developing a contraceptive method that can widely be distributed among these latter population groups and would be a new method of birth control, presented by WHO as being of women health interest.

The researchers affirmed that this vaccine wouldn’t have the negative effects of classical pills (see HERE)

In this regard, more than forty years ago, Indian researcher Dr Gursaran Pran Talwar suggested the possibility of producing a contraceptive vaccine, based on the convenience of having a contraceptive method that would not require daily pills and, above all, that did not have the negative side effects of contraceptive pills. He, therefore, considered that it could be a vaccine that had human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) as a target; as we know, this is a hormone produced by the embryo as soon as it is formed and is thus undetectable until the pregnancy commences.

Mechanism of action 

The most important function of hCG is that it is essential for the embryo to be able to implant properly in its mother’s uterus. Talwar thus thought that the implantation of embryos could be blocked if a vaccine was used that could neutralize the action of hCG.

In pursuit of this goal,Bharat Biotech has been working on several types of vaccines (with immunocontraception effect) for 40 years (these are not reported here but can be found in the article Nature Medicine (Volume 24. Number 2. February 2018) until he developed the third generation of his vaccine, which will now be evaluated in a clinical trial.

Immunocontraception clinical trials are commissioned

This third generation of the contraceptive vaccine has passed the necessary experimental controls in rodents and marsupials and, although it was ready to be used in humans in 2010, it took 8 years for its use to be approved by the Indian Ministry of Health’s National Committee for Genetic Manipulation and Drug Control.  The company Bharat Biotech, in Hyderabad, has been commissioned to produce the drug to start the aforementioned clinical trials.

Bioethics approach

This vaccine may be of interest from a biomedical point of view, as it shows some advantages over contraceptive pills, as mentioned. However, from a bioethical point of view, it should be highlighted that, as reported, this vaccine would act by preventing the implantation of the embryo in the uterus (see HERE), consequently destroying a human life that has already begun its journey. In our opinion, this, therefore, makes it deserving of a negative bioethical assessment.


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