A thermo-stable vaccine against severe rotavirus-induced diarrhoea by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) will be soon available in low and middle-income countries.
The vaccine named Rotasiil has got the World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalification. This prequalification means the vaccine is ready for procurement by United Nations agencies and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, for free supply to poor nations.
“The WHO prequalification means that the vaccine is ready for use in other countries. Though there are already three rotavirus vaccines, Rotasiil will be made available at a very low cost and that will make a difference. Vaccination is the best way to prevent severe rotavirus illness,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO and owner, SII.
Launched in India in 2017, the vaccine was included in India’s National Immunisation Programme in 2018.
The company has also claimed that the vaccine is first of its kind in the world, which doesn’t require refrigeration.
“This is the second vaccine out of only four made in the world, which is developed by an Indian company. The first vaccine was developed by Bharat Biotech and it is in use now. The other two international multinational companies (MNCs) in the world who make this vaccine are Merck and GSK pharmas. Hence, it is a proud moment that two vaccines out of four in the world are from India,” Poonawalla added.
It is to be noted that Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrheal disease in children worldwide. Unfortunately, 90 percent of deaths due to rotavirus diarrhoea comes in low-income countries.
Rotasiil is an oral vaccine administered to infants in a three-dose course at 6, 10, and 14 weeks of age and at the same time as routine vaccinations.