On 9th March, 2015, Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, took another step toward his commitment to “Make in India” and launched ROTAVAC®, India’s first indigenously discovered and manufactured Rotavirus vaccine.
Close to 872,000 Indian children below the age of 5 are hospitalized each year due to moderate- to severe diarrhea cause by Rotavirus. Of these, an estimated 78,500 children never return back to their family and home. In 2011 alone, diarrhea caused by Rotavirus led 1 out of 8 children to seek treatment, 1 out of 31 children to be hospitalized and 1 out of 345 children to not see the sun rise the next morning.
For a country at the helm of growth these statistics are sobering. Especially because Rotavirus is a disease that can be effectively prevented by vaccines.
As of January, 2015, 75 countries across the globe - including some low income countries - have introduced Rotavirus vaccine in their immunization schedule. This is recommended by the World Health Organization and the introduction of the vaccine and scale-up of its delivery in eligible (low to middle income) countries, is supported by Gavi.
Considering the public health impact of the vaccine in preventing childhood mortality and morbidity and after a review of the safety and efficacy profile of the available vaccines, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) in India recommended the introduction of Rotavirus vaccine in the Universal Immunization Program (UIP). This was followed by Government of India’s historic policy decision to introduce Rotavirus vaccine, in addition to three other life-saving vaccines, in the UIP last July.
The launch of ROTAVAC® is a step forward in adding a safe, effective and affordable vaccine to the list of other available Rotavirus vaccines in the world. ROTAVAC® is a story of collaboration between partners across nations, namely USA, India and Norway, and across organizations and government departments, such as the Indian Ministry of Science & Technology, Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Health (USA), Bharat Biotech India Limited, PATH, Society of Applied Studies, and others. Most of all it, is a step forward in saving lives, and ensuring a healthier future for the children of this world.
The development of ROTAVAC® is testimony to the partnerships and innovation that pave the way for a better, healthier world. It is also a shining example of what it really means to “Make in India”.