US accolade for developing diarrhoea vaccine

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Wednesday congratulated India for developing an indigenous rotavirus vaccine for prevention of diarrhoea.

“We congratulate the programme for appropriate technology in health (PATH), Bharat Biotech International 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 said in a statement.

Indian scientists have developed an affordable vaccine that has shown strong efficacy in preventing rotavirus diarrhoea, the most severe and lethal cause of childhood diarrhoea that kills over 100,000 children annually.

The vaccine ‘Rotovac’ is the outcome of public-private partnership between the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and pharma company Bharat Biotech.

Once licensed by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the vaccine will cost around Rs.54 per dose compared to the currently available vaccine which costs Rs.2,250 per dose. Each child needs to take three doses as part of vaccination.

Highly contagious rotavirus is 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 five-years-old and hospitalises an estimated two million children worldwide, largely in developing countries.

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.

In the early 1990s, NIAID established an inter-agency agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and made several grant awards through the NIAID Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme.

“We are deeply gratified to have played a role in establishing the safety and efficacy of the ROTAVAC vaccine. No infant or child should die as the result of rota virus-induced severe diarrhea.

“The 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,” the statement said.

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