Rotavirus vaccine can reduce 26,985 deaths in India: Report

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Kolkata: The central government's decision to introduce rotavirus vaccine in India's Universal Immunization Programme can reduce as many as 26,985 deaths annually due to rotaviral diarrhoea, a study said.

It also said the vaccine can also lead to 291,756 fewer hospitalizations.

Rotaviral diarrhoea is the common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children. The study by Vaccine journal "estimates 11.37 million episodes in India annually", according to a statement.

"Introduction of rotavirus vaccine in the Universal Immunization Programme in India at current coverage would result in 26,985 fewer deaths, 291,756 fewer hospitalizations and 686,277 fewer outpatient visits annually in India assuming no indirect effects for the vaccine," the statement said.

The supplement released Aug 11 and has 33 papers on rotaviral diarrhoea.

The paper 'Rotavirus Gastroenteritis in India, 2011-2013' pointed out the latest disease burden. It said: "There are over 78,000 rotavirus-associated deaths annually, as well as more than 872,000 hospitalizations and over 3.2 million outpatient visits each year."

The authors noted: "Beyond such deaths, there are an additional 872,000 hospitalizations and 3.2 million outpatient visits each year, collectively resulting in an economic burden of Rs.4.9 billion and Rs.5.38 billion, respectively.

"Each of these numbers individually is less than the estimated 4.47 billion it would cost to fund a rotavirus immunization programme."

According to experts who contributed to the study: "One in every 334-356 Indian children under five years of age will die from rotavirus diarrhea, one in every 22 to 45 children will be hospitalized, and 1 in every 6 to 12 children will have visited an outpatient clinic for rotavirus diarrhea."

To prevent one rotavirus-related death, 743 children need to be vaccinated while vaccinating 69 children would prevent one rotavirus hospitalization, the report said.

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