An Indian pharma and biotech firm has successfully developed a vaccine for rotavirus, the fatal virus that remains responsible for severe diarrhoea among infants and young children. The vaccine has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and was launched by PM Narendra Modi recently in New Delhi.
The vaccine is indigenously developed and manufactured and the company has pledged to supply the vaccine, Rotavac, at a market price of about Rs. 63 or roughly $1 per dose. Considering the vaccine manufactured by foreign manufacturers is roughly around Rs. 1,100 per dose, this will be the cheapest vaccine for rotavirus to be made available in the market globally.
It is estimated that the virus kills over 80,000 children under the age of five annually and leads to around 10 lakh hospitalisations in India alone.
The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, watery diarrhoea and mild fever. It has no cure but mild cases of rotavirus are treated with fluids and salts (oral rehydration). In severe cases, the patient needs to be supplied fluids intravenously to battle the fatal, dehydrating effect of the virus.
Vaccination remains the best bet against this virus. Presently, Rotarix by GlaxoSmithKline and RotaTeq by Merck are the most popular vaccines available in the market to combat this virus.
Rotavirus is predominantly reported from low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. Production of cheap vaccines for this deadly virus would be a boon for many.
Here is a list of countries with the most rotavirus diarrhoea deaths, by number and percentage of global total: