Summer Update: August 2018


Dear Colleagues,
Next week is the International Rotavirus Symposium in Minsk, Belarus. There will be much to digest and discuss. Since the 2016 Symposium in Australia, dozens of new publications and reviews have described how rotavirus vaccines are saving lives and preventing serious illness around the world.
Most recently, a major new study published results showing that rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhea deaths by one-third in rural Malawi, a region with high levels of child deaths.
Yet the majority of infants worldwide still live in countries or states that have yet to introduce the vaccine. While there has been much progress made in introducing rotavirus vaccines in low-income countries, many middle-income countries have yet to introduce the vaccines. Also, even in countries where vaccines have been introduced, the most vulnerable children often do not have access. We need to protect all children.
Mathu Santosham
Chair, ROTA Council


Introduction Updates: 3.9 million more children vaccinated against rotavirus in 2017 

According to an analysis by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Estimates of National Immunization Coverage, 3.9 million more children were vaccinated in 2017 against rotavirus, the leading cause of severe diarrhea. 
Since 2017, vaccine rollouts in large South Asian countries have continued, while Uganda became the latest African country to launch rotavirus vaccine in June. According to the most recent report from the International Vaccine Access Center's VIEW-hub platform, an estimated 57% of the world's infants (76.5 million) still live in countries, or regions within countries, that have not introduced rotavirus vaccine into their national immunization program. When factoring in current levels of national immunization coverage, VIEW-hub estimates that about 100 million children worldwide are not receiving rotavirus vaccines.

See below for the latest vaccine introduction map, which shows countries with subnational introductions in pale green. Learn more about global introduction status .


ROTA Council will convene experts to accelerate progress in Eastern Europe  

On 31 August, ROTA Council will host a workshop in conjunction with the 13th International Rotavirus Symposium in Minsk, Belarus. The session will provide a brief overview of rotavirus disease burden, key barriers including financing and hesitancy, and opportunities to accelerate vaccine access in the region. Participants will work together to build a roadmap for equitable, sustainable rotavirus vaccine introduction and access in Eastern Europe. Only about one in three countries in the EURO region has introduced the vaccine.

For more information about the ROTA Council workshop, contact Tyler Best


Rotavirus vaccine has major impact on diarrhea deaths in Malawi 

A new study has shown that rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhea deaths by one-third in rural Malawi, a region with high levels of child deaths. The  study, led by scientists at the University of Liverpool, University College London, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, and other partners in Malawi, provides the first population-level evidence from a low-income country that rotavirus vaccination saves lives.
The findings, published in  the Lancet Global Health, add considerable weight to the WHO recommendation for rotavirus vaccine to be included in all national immunization programes.
Professor Nigel Cunliffe, a  ROTA Council member, said: "t he key message of this paper is that to do the best by all our children and to help them survive, all countries should introduce rotavirus vaccination."

Rotavirus vaccine evaluation across Africa 

By the end of 2017, 32 (68%) of 47 countries in the WHO's African Region had introduced  rotavirus vaccine  into their national immunization programs. In a special issue of Vaccine, Jason M. Mwenda and colleagues provide additional rotavirus vaccine effectiveness and impact data from a range of African countries, including: the longer-term impact and potential indirect benefits of rotavirus vaccination programs; trends in circulating genotypes in the pre- and post-vaccine introduction eras; and the cost-effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination programs in a post-introduction setting. 

As countries begin transitioning from Gavi support, the findings from these studies provide evidence of the impact and effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination programs under conditions of routine use.
The current evaluations can also serve as a model for other regions where wide-scale rotavirus vaccine programs are starting to be implemented as part of the WHO-coordinated Global Rotavirus Surveillance Network.

New global estimates for rotavirus morbidity and mortality

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington recently released new estimates of rotavirus morbidity and mortality. They estimate that rotavirus caused 128,500 deaths and more than 258 million episodes of diarrhea among children under 5 in 2016. 

The new publication concludes that rotavirus-associated mortality has decreased markedly over time in part because of the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine.

In Bangladesh, searching for solutions to deaths and hospitalization from serious childhood diseases like rotavirus diarrhea

Dr. K Zaman  

Over  the last 33 years, Dr. K. Zaman, a ROTA Council member and senior scientist and epidemiologist at icddr,b,  has made major contributions to the study of rotavirus disease.  

In an interview with NewsHour Bangladesh, he discussed his personal motivation for pursuing this work, including a harrowing time when one of his children suffered from rotavirus disease. Read the transcript here .

Dr. Zaman's contributions were also featured in The Daily Star on 5 August 2018. 

More Recent News

Opinion Editorial by  Dr. Dang Duc Anh, Director, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and Manager, National Expanded Program on Immunisation,  Vietnam .
Sức Khỏe và Đời Sống (Vietnam) 27 July, 2018
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