Indian firm’s anti-diarrhoea vaccine gets WHO nod
Launched in 2015, the rotavirus vaccine Rotavac got the nod earlier this month and it will allow organisations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to procure it for public vaccination programmeshealth Updated: Jan 24, 2018 23:27 IST
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cleared Indian pharma major Bharat Biotech’s anti-diarrhoea vaccine for worldwide use.
Launched in 2015, the rotavirus vaccine Rotavac got the nod earlier this month and it will allow organisations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to procure it for public vaccination programmes, the company said on Wednesday.
“The WHO prequalification will ensure access of the vaccine to almost 100 countries,” said Krishna Ella, chairman and MD of Bharat Biotech.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea among babies and young children and kills 100,000 infants a year in India and 500,000 globally. Contaminated food and water are the major causes of the viral infection. “Almost 30% of all diarrhoeal deaths happen due to rota virus,” said Dr MK Bhan, who, as a researcher at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), isolated the virus strain in 1986 that was used to create the vaccine.
India included Rotavac, an oral vaccine, into its universal immunisation programme in 2016. This is the second WHO nod in a row for Bharat Biotech, with its typhoid vaccine Typbar TCV also recently getting an all-clear from the UN body.
The vaccine is available at a nominal cost of $1 (around Rs 64) per dose for use in government facilities and for procurement for GAVI-supported countries. Its retail price in India is Rs 250 per dose. Ideally, three doses in a year are recommended.
GAVI is a global vaccine alliance that aims to save lives through immunisation in poor countries. “We are the first rotavirus vaccine from the developing world and India to be WHO prequalified,” said Ella, adding Bharat Biotech was committed to making affordable vaccines for the developing world.