Each year, across the world over 760,000 children under five die due to diarrhea, which is also the third and according to some estimates the second leading cause of death in children that age.
In India, it is responsible for 13% of all deaths in children under 5 years of age. That is 300,000 children every year.
The disease which is commonly caused by gastrointestinal infections is treatable, but at over Rs 2,000 for a full immunization course, the cost to avail it is only limited to the ones, who can afford it. At least, that was the case until Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech introduced its life-saving alternative.
At Rs. 60 per dose, Rotavac is not only affordable but according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, the vaccine “significantly reduced severe rotavirus diarrhea by more than half—56 percent during the first year of life, with protection continuing into the second year of life.”
The study further revealed that Rotavac’s efficacy “compares favorably with the efficacy of the currently licensed rotavirus vaccines in low-resource countries.”
This, Annalisa Merelli writes in the Quartz, “represents a milestone for Indian healthcare.”
Last week, Rotavac was introduced free of cost by the Union Health Ministry in four states Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, as the country’s first, indigenous vaccine to combat diarrhoeal deaths. The government now plans to expand the vaccine in phased manner in the entire country.
But that is not all, Bharat Biotech along with its partners is seeking for a prequalification of their vaccine by the World Health Organization (WHO). Once approved, the vaccine according to The Lancet could be purchased by UNICEF to make it available to countries eligible for receiving subsidized vaccines under it.
“Rotavac’s development could be viewed as an alternative model for developing new lifesaving vaccines for use in low-income countries,” The Lancet study concludes.