Progress Update: March 2018


Dear Colleagues,

Since our last Progress Update, Bharat Biotech's oral ROTAVAC vaccine received prequalification. This is tremendous news, especially since Bharat has made the vaccine, now used in nine Indian states, available at US$1/dose for low-income countries. 

We've also just seen evidence published in the  New England Journal of Medicine by Council member Julie Bines and her team that a new vaccine product, RV3-BB, was highly effective against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis when given to newborns in Indonesia.  

Finally, Afghanistan started a national rotavirus vaccine introduction in January, wonderful news for a country with one of the highest rotavirus mortality rates in Asia. 

I invite you to read below for more updates. Please also let me know if you'd ever like to suggest research or news for this bulletin.




In this edition...


Bharat Biotech's ROTAVAC vaccine is now prequalified by WHO 

B harat Biotech's ROTAVAC® vaccine received WHO-prequalification in January. Vaccines are added to WHO's prequalification list after a positive outcome of an evaluation of relevant data and after the product's manufacturing sites are audited by WHO. Prequalified vaccines must also be manufactured and packaged to specifications required by UN organizations interested in procuring these vaccines, such as UNICEF.

Now the manufacturer plans to contribute to providing low-cost rotavirus vaccines for children globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries where the majority of rotavirus deaths occur.

Afghanistan introduces rotavirus vaccine in Kabul ceremony

Rotavirus vaccine was introduced in Afghanistan on January 27th by Public Health Minister Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz in the presence of WHO and UNICEF country representatives. Afghanistan will provide the vaccine free of charge to children with the second dose of OPV-2/PCV-2 and PENTA-2.

Council members host rotavirus session at pediatric infectious disease conference in Manila 

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines held  its 25th Annual Convention on February 21-23 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Manila.  Council members Lulu Bravo and Tony Nelson presented a symposium on advocacy and communication for the control of pediatric infectious disease and co-chaired a ROTA Council workshop with Mathu Santosham for representatives from four Asian countries yet to introduce rotavirus vaccines.
Stay tuned for a summary of the event!

Update from Abuja: Rotavirus disease burden and impact of vaccination in Africa

Council member Fred Were spoke at the Immunization Symposium of the Union of National African Paediatric Societies & Association / Paediatric Association of Nigeria (UNAPSA-PAN)  in Abuja, Nigeria on January 21-23. The audience included health care workers in Western Africa, representatives of industry, global agencies including WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi, and representatives of regional and federal health ministries of the government of Nigeria. 

Dr. Were spoke about rotavirus disease burden in the African region and vaccine introduction status on the continent, and provided insight on introductions in Zambia and Ghana. He also presented compelling evidence of mortality reduction among the early vaccine adopters, for instance, in Latin America. 


Save the Date: International Rotavirus Symposium to be held in Minsk, Belarus

The 13th International Rotavirus Symposium will be held August 29-31 in Minsk, Belarus.  Th e website for the Rotavirus Symposium is up ( ) and the abstract submission and registration functions are both live. See you there!


Australian researchers develop rotavirus vaccine effective for newborns

A team of Australian researchers led by Council member Julie Bines has demonstrated that the human neonatal vaccine RV3-BB provided protection against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. When administered according to the neonatal schedule in Indonesia, the vaccine was 94% efficacious at 12 months of age and 75% at 18 months of age, findings that support giving the vaccine starting at birth. The results compare favorably with other globally licensed vaccines that have been evaluated in similar low- and lower-middle-income countries with high disease burden. 

RV3-BB was developed by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and administered with local input from PT Bio Farma to babies in District Klaten, Central Java, and District Sleman, Yogyakarta in Indonesia. 

A neonatal schedule could help protect babies earlier against rotavirus infection. Additionally, since mothers are often in contact with health care staff just after giving birth, providing a dose of vaccine at birth could improve overall rotavirus vaccine coverage.

Rotavirus vaccine has greater impact on most deprived populations


A new study from Council member Nigel Cunliffe of the University of Liverpool showed that rotavirus vaccine impact in the Liverpool area was greatest in the most deprived populations, despite lower vaccine uptake. In addition, Dr. Cunliffe and colleagues found that the rotavirus vaccination will reduce burden on the health care system for gastrointestinal disease in the UK. Authors concluded that this and other evidence pointed to the importance of continuing expansion of rotavirus vaccine introductions across Europe. 


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Updated slides now available

Slides accompanying the ROTA Council white paper- Rotavirus: Common, Severe, Devastating, Preventable- have just been updated! 

The new deck contains details on ROTAVAC® and Rotasiil®, as well as updated surveillance figures from countries in Africa, the Americas, and Asia.  


Pursuit (Australia) 22 February 2018

Bangkok Post (Thailand) 9 January 2018

VTV (Nigeria) 4 January 2018
Pajhwok Afghan News (Afghanistan) 28 January 2018

Impatient Optimists (United States) 9 January 2018

The Daily Star (Bangladesh) 28 January 2018

© Courtesy of Pixabay;  © Courtesy of UNICEF;  © Courtesy of Photoshare; Courtesy of Fred Were

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