India’s first rotavirus vaccine Rotavac

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 9 March 2015 launched the first indigenously developed Rotavirus vaccine named Rotavac. This is the third such vaccine, besides GSK Rotarix and Merck’s RotaTeq available globally against Rotavirus.

The vaccine will boost India’s efforts to combat infant mortality due to diarrhea. The vaccine will be available at a price of 1 US dollar per dose making it the cheapest vaccine available for rotavirus globally.

Rotavac vaccine was developed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model that involved Union Ministry of Science and Technology, US’s National Institute of Health (NIH), NGOs in India supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bharat Biotech India Limited (BBIL).

Union Government along with NIH of the US funded the basic research while the Bharat Biotech India Limited (BBIL) and the Gates Foundation contributed towards vaccine development and testing.

The vaccine was the result of an extraordinary effort spread over the last 25 years. The BBIL that was involved in the development and production of the vaccine was selected in 1997-1998 by the India-U.S. Vaccine Action Programme to develop the vaccine.

About Rotavirus
It is a most common causative agent of moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) among infants below 11 months age group in India. It spreads from person to person due to bacterial agents that are primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water.

In India, diarrhoea caused by rotavirus kills nearly 80 thousand children under the age of 5 years and lead to 10 lakh hospitalizations every year. India accounts for 22 percent of the global deaths that occurs due to diarrhoea-causing rotavirus.

Rotavirus vaccines are administered orally to infants in three dose course at ages of six, ten and fourteen weeks and are part of Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).

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