Health

New Vaccine Could Slow Disease That Kills 600 Children a Day

A new vaccine against a diarrheal disease that kills about 600 children a day worked well in a large trial in Africa and appears to be a practical way to protect millions of children, scientists said on Wednesday.

Research data published in the NEJM describe a vaccine with potential efficacy in preventing symptoms associated with rotavirus infection, The New York Times reported.

In the study, the investigators treated children in African nations with up to three doses of the Serum Institute of India’s investigational vaccine Rotasiil or placebo.

The vaccine is expected to be as cheap as or cheaper than current alternatives. More important, it can last for months without refrigeration, which makes it far easier to use in remote villages with no electricity.

The researchers found that the vaccine was 67 percent effective in preventing severe episodes of rotavirus-related diarrhoea versus placebo.

Despite the lack of complete protection, Rotasiil was more effective than Merck and Co.’s Rotateq or GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix.

Meanwhile, Gavi chief executive Seth Berkley noted that one advantage Rotasiil has is that it can be stored unrefrigerated for up to six months, while vaccines such as Rotateq, Rotarix or Bharat Biotech’s Rotavac must be refrigerated or frozen.

Rajeev Dhere, the executive director of the Serum Institute, said Rotasiil will be initially priced at about $6 for a three-dose regimen, versus $5 for two doses for Rotarix and $10.50 for three doses of Rotateq.

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