Rotavirus which causes severe diarrhea can be combated with two new vaccines, according to clinical trials. The New England Journal of Medicine has published this report. The symptoms can be reduced by as much as by between 85% to 100%. The affliction affects children in large numbers.
Experts say the unqualified success of two drugs in these larger trials, without negative side effects, is a major step towards getting them put into wider use. Researchers hope that the vaccines, which are swallowed rather than injected, will become a routine part of the immunization repertoire given to babies alongside diphtheria and tetanus.
"These results are really promising and very exciting," Nature quoted Umesh Parashar, an infectious-disease specialist in Georgia, as saying.
To prove that the new vaccines are safe, the teams enrolled more than 60,000 infants for each trial, in order to detect complications that might develop in only a few tens or hundreds.
Both vaccines appeared to avoid side effects and protected children against multiple strains of rotavirus. One, called Rotarix and manufactured by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, contains a crippled strain of live human rotavirus1. The other, a Merck vaccine dubbed RotaTeq, is made up of five different disabled rotaviruses, each a combination of strains from humans and cows.
Researchers add that they must perform additional clinical trials to test whether the immunizations are as effective on children that are malnourished and harbor other infections, as is often the case in developing countries. The vaccine may also prove too expensive for widespread use in such places.