Nigeria currently accounts for 14% of all childhood rotavirus deaths globally, making it the country with the second-highest number of rotavirus deaths in the world. Rotavirus infection causes about 50,000 child fatalities under the age of five each year in Nigeria.
“Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of diarrheal disease in the world and is responsible for over 40% of diarrhoea in children. It accounts for about 215,000 of the 525,000-under-5 mortality worldwide each year that are attributed to diarrheal diseases, making it the most common cause of severe diarrhoea,” the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech said.
Pointing out that novel vaccines from India are saving lives globally, Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director Dr Krishna Ella said: “We are committed to supporting, and reducing the burden of infectious diseases among children in the developing world, and to ensure nations like Nigeria in the African continent, have access to cost-effective world-class interventions for infants and vulnerable populations. ROTAVAC is safe and effective at preventing diarrheal disease caused by the rotavirus.”
Pointing out that Rotavac was developed after decades of research and product development efforts, Ella said the vaccine is now available in several countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Data about Rotovac has been published in over 20 international publications, including the phase III results that were published in Lancet in 2014. The project was funded by the Indian government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Research Council of Norway, UK DFID, and Bharat Biotech, the company said
The first-generation rotavirus vaccine, which was developed by Bharat Biotech under the public-private partnership mode with the department of biotechnology (DBT), government of India, and 16 other international partners, received World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalification in January 2018. It was developed over three decades using a multi-country and multi-partner collaborative model of team science and is touted as one of the largest social innovation projects for public health.
Apart from DBT, vaccine development involved the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Indian Institute of Science (IISC), the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute (THSTI), the Society for Applied Studies (SAS), Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore, King Edwards Memorial Hospital (KEM) Pune, Stanford University School of Medicine, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Johns Hopkins University and PATH.
Bharat Biotech has so far also developed vaccines for Covid-19 (Covaxin), influenza H1N1, Japanese Encephalitis (Jenvac), Rabies, Chikungunya, Zika, Cholera, and the world’s first tetanus toxoid conjugated vaccine for Typhoid.