Rotavirus vaccine shown to reduce risk of death by 34% in Malawi

pharmafile | August 15, 2018 | News story | Research and Development Rotavirus, diarrhoea, malawi, vaccination program, vaccines 

A rotavirus vaccine was successful in reducing diarrhoea related deaths in infants in Malawi by 34%, a study led by researchers from the University of Liverpool and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has shown.

Professor Nigel Cunliffe from the University of Liverpool commented: “Rotavirus remains a leading cause of severe diarrhoea and death among infants and young children in many countries in Africa and Asia. Our findings strongly advocate for the incorporation of rotavirus vaccine into the childhood immunisation programmes of countries with high rates of diarrhoea deaths, and support continued use in such countries where a vaccine has been introduced.”

Despite ongoing improvements in sanitation and case management, rotavirus caused 215,000 deaths in children in 2013, 120,000 of which were in Africa. The virus is the most common diarrhoeal disease amongst young children and babies.

The research found that the rotavirus vaccine was able to reduce the risk of death from diarrhoea by 34% in a study of 48,672 infant deaths in the low income country of Malawi. The decreased risk of death was similar to that seen in middle income countries.

Dr Carina King, a senior research associate at UCL’s Institute for Global Health commented: “This is encouraging because children from the sub-Saharan African region account for more than half of global diarrhoea deaths, and with over 30 African countries thus far introducing rotavirus vaccine, the absolute impact on mortality is likely to be substantial.”

Currently 31 different African countries (64%) have included the rotavirus vaccine as part of their international vaccination programmes.  However the study suggests that the vaccine should become more widespread.

Louis Goss

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