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Rotavirus vaccine “should be used”


An international rotavirus vaccination programme should be set up, The Lancet medical journal has reported.

Rotavirus vaccines have halted infection by as much as 48% in some of the most impoverished nations on the planet, according to the results of a study.

At least 400,000 children die from the bug each year. It is known to be the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and younger children.

John Victor, who works for the non-profit development group PATH, based in Seattle, wrote: “Rotavirus vaccines have the potential to protect the lives of nearly two million children in the next decade alone.”

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The vaccines are manufactured by pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Sanofi-aventis.

Dr Victor said his research shows that the vaccines will still be effective in those areas where clean water and medical care is uncommon.

Merck’s RotaTeq vaccine was tested in rural areas of Bangladesh and in parts of Vietnam. Around 2,000 babies were given either three oral doses of RotaTeq or got a placebo. Two years later the researchers found that 38 vaccinated babies still contracted the rotavirus and 71 babies given only the placebo also caught the bug.

The researchers said this indicates that the vaccine is 48% effective against serious infections.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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