India to Reduce Child Diarrhea Deaths Through Vaccine

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NEW DELHI, India – The Indian government hopes to significantly reduce the number of child deaths caused by a diarrhea-inducing virus called rotavirus. Rotavirus is the main cause of death for children in developing countries. India is known for providing low-cost drugs for its citizens, and a vaccine for the virus is no exception. The vaccine’s manufacturer has announced its plan to sell each dose for $1. The rotavirus vaccine has the potential to save thousands of children in developing countries.

Rotavirus is transmitted in unsanitary conditions and kills approximately half a million children annually. The rotavirus vaccine will be revolutionary in stopping the proliferation of the disease. Indian authorities have already deemed Rotavac safe and effective for public use. As the Phase III trials just finished, the government announced that the vaccine managed to reduce severe cases of diarrhea in 6.799 infants by 56%.

India’s Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology is confident that the vaccine will save thousands of Indian children every year. He also is eager to make the vaccine available in other developing countries. Once Rotavac is licensed by Indian authorities and, later, by the World Health Organization, it will be possible for people in developing countries to have access to this life-saving vaccine.

Rotavac is not the first vaccine to reduce diarrhea caused by the rotavirus, but it is the only vaccine that is financially accessible to the poor. The GAVI Alliance, a group that works with pharmaceutical companies to make drugs available to the poor, is partnering with drug companies GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to ensure these low prices will be offered to people living in other poor countries, not just in India.

These cheap prices will make sure the vaccine reaches as many children in as many countries as possible. The GAVI Alliance has already started to plan programs that will distribute Rotavac in 14 developing countries and then eventually 30 countries. Given the second most prevalent cause of child deaths is diarrhea, this vaccine will greatly reduce the number of global child fatalities. As long as this vaccine stays inexpensive, thousands, if not millions, of children could be saved.

– Mary Penn

Source: Washington Post
Photo: ScienceMag

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