Rotavirus Current Affairs

Rotavac: First India-designed vaccine to pass WHO test

Rotavac became first Indigenously developed vaccine from India to be pre-qualified by World Health Organisation (WHO). It means that vaccine can be sold internationally to several countries in South America and Africa.

So far, several vaccines from India have been pre-qualified by WHO, but Rotavac is first vaccine entirely developed locally to get this status in safety and efficacy.

Rotavac

Rotavac conceived and developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited. It protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus. It was developed under the joint collaboration between India and United States in area of medical research.

It was developed under public-private partnership (PPP) model that involved Ministry of Science and Technology, institutions of the US Government and NGOs in India supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The vaccine was built on strain of the virus isolated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi over 30 years ago. It has been included in India’s national immunisation programme. The vaccine was tested in field for over a year, have not shown any negative effect.

Significance

This recognition signifies credible industrial, scientific and regulatory process in place to develop vaccines in India. It paves the way for health and humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF, GAVI and Pan-American Health Organization to procure Rotavac for public health vaccination programmes across the world.

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 and parasiting agents that are primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water. It is responsible for estimated 36% of hospitalisations for childhood diarrhoea around world and for estimated 200,000 deaths in low- and middle-income countries. In India, diarrhoea caused by rotavirus, kills nearly 80 thousand children under age of 5 years and up to 10 lakh hospitalizations each year.

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Government announces expansion of rotavirus vaccine in 5 states

The Union Government has announced the expansion of rotavirus vaccine in five additional states under Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). They are Assam, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

The announcement comes after 38 lakh children were vaccinated when the vaccine was first introduced in four states – Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. 

Key Facts
  • The rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age. It is one of the biggest killers in children in India.
  • It is responsible for nearly 78,000 deaths, 32 lakh out-patient visits and nearly 9 lakh hospitalizations every year.
  • The vaccine will prevent Rotavirus diarrhoea in children which accounts for approximately 40% of hospitalizations from diarrhoea in India.
  • Rotavirus vaccine supplemented by proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children.

About Rotavirus

  • The Rotavirus is a genus of double-stranded RNA virus in the family Reoviridae.
  • It most common causative agent of moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) among infants below 11 months age group and death among children less than five years of age.
  • Transmission: The virus spreads from person to person due to bacterial and parasiting agents that are primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water.
  • Impact on Health: It causes gastroenteritis after it damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis. In some cases in causes malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children.

About Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP)

The UIP provide free of cost vaccines to all children across the country to protect them against 11 life threatening diseases. These 11 diseases are Tuberculosis, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Polio, Pneumonia and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Rotavirus diarrhoea and Japanese Encephalitis (JE). (Rubella, JE and Rotavirus vaccine are given in select states and districts). It is the largest birth cohort in the world vaccinating around 26 million children annually.

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