US laud India for developing rotavirus vaccine

Washington: US today congratulated India for developing an indigenous rotavirus vaccine for prevention of diarrhoea, terming it a significant victory for the country`s scientific community.

The Government of India`s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Bharat Biotech yesterday announced positive results from a Phase III clinical trial of a rotavirus vaccine developed and manufactured in India.

"We congratulate the Programme 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," Anthony S Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said in a statement.

"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 hospitalises an estimated two million children worldwide, largely in developing countries," he said.

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 Organisation recommended in 2009 the inclusion of rotavirus vaccine in all national immunization programmes. 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," the statement said.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health, was a partner in the public/private collaboration to develop and test this important vaccine.

We are deeply gratified to have played a role in establishing the safety and efficacy of the ROTAVAC vaccine.

NIAID is proud to be among the scientific partners who have worked over the past decades to potentially make that affliction a thing of the past for the children of India.