launched Rotavac — an oral vaccine that aims to reduce infant deaths caused by
Rotavirus diarrhea in India and other parts of the world. Developed and
manufactured in Hyderabad, the vaccine will be available next week for as low
as Rs. 60 per dose.
Rotavac is given to
infants in a three courses at the ages of 6, 10 and 14 weeks. The Made-in-India
vaccine is expected to reduce infant deaths due to rotavirus diarrhea and
prevent such infant mortalities worldwide. Over 80,000 children under five
years of age die from rotavirus infection each year in India, which is the
second largest killer of young children globally, after pneumonia.
The results of phase
III clinical trials for the efficacy of the vaccine, which were published in Lancet,
revealed that the vaccine was as effective as the currently licensed rotavirus vaccines
in the prevention of diarrhea;
it also reduces hospitalization. Rotovac will soon be inducted into the
national immunization programme.
At the launch recently,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "The launch was the result of an
extraordinary effort spread over the last 25 years. I hope that it would
inspire higher levels of research, development
and manufacturing activities in the country, not just in medical science, but
also in other important areas of science and technology."
Modi lauded this
initiative an example of India's capabilities for high-end research and
development of sophisticated pharmaceutical products in India. "It is also an
effective public-private-partnership model for finding affordable solutions to
societal challenges," he said. "It's a successful example of collaboration
between India and the US in the field of medical science."
'Rotavac' was developed
through a unique social innovation partnership under the Indo-US Vaccine Action
Program that brought together the experience of Indian and international
The life saving vaccine
was developed by Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based company. Dr. Krishna Ella,
chairman and MD, said "We realized a dream by bringing out the first Made in
India molecule. Our vaccine is affordable, safe and effective, besides being
cross-protective against a variety of rotavirus strains."
The oral vaccine will
also be sold to public health programmes in developing countries at about $ 1
per dose. "The vaccine will be the third to hit the Indian market, but will be
more affordable than the two vaccines available now costing more than Rs 1,000
per dose. Our Hyderabad-based facility has the capacity to make over 300
million doses per year," Ella said.
- Roger Glass, a scientist from the US and M. K. Bhan, then
assistant professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences
(AIIMS), India, started the project around 30 years ago.
- In 2003, two promising strains — I321 isolated by at the Indian
Institute of Science (IISc) and 116e isolated at the AIIMS were ready to
be made into potential vaccines. They were formulated as vaccines and
tested in infants at AIIMS in 2003.
- By 2005, it was clear that one of the strains - 116e, had
almost twice the protective effect than that of the IISc strain.
- The results of the last trial (phase 3) were announced at a
widely publicized media event in New Delhi on 14 May, 2013.
It was officially launched by Prime Minister
Modi on 9 March 2015 in New Delhi.