US Department of health and human services National institutes of health congratulate the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), Bharat Biotech International, Ltd., and the scientists, government and people of India on the important results from the ROTAVAC rotavirus vaccine study.
Highly contagious rotaviruses are the leading cause of severe diarrheal illnesses among infants and young children in both developed and resource-limited countries. Each year, rotavirus-induced diarrheal disease kills roughly 435,000 children younger than 5 years old and hospitalizes an estimated two million children worldwide, largely in developing countries. The youngest children -- those between 6 months and 2 years of age -- are most vulnerable.
Since 2006, two oral rotavirus vaccines have been licensed and available in North and South American, European and Eastern Mediterranean countries, where they have significantly reduced the burden of rotavirus-induced diarrhea. Based on that success, the World Health Organization recommended in 2009 the inclusion of rotavirus vaccine in all national immunization programs. However, access to vaccines can be slow and limited in the areas of the world where they are needed most.
ROTAVAC is a new rotavirus vaccine that consists of a strain of the virus that was isolated, manufactured and tested in India. The ROTAVAC trial represents a significant victory for India’s scientific community. Based on the study’s successful findings, infants in India will gain access to a licensed vaccine and its significant protection against severe rotavirus-induced gastroenteritis.