Rotavirus diarrhoeal deaths in 2013 in the African Region was 56% of the global numbers. In the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa region, it is reported that 12% of deaths in children under five years was due to diarrhoea in 2010. Out of all diarrhoea deaths in under fives in this area in 2014, 30% was due to rotavirus.
Rotavirus is contagious spread through contaminated hands and objects from person to person. It quickly dehydrated affected individuals because of the diarrhoea it causes. Treatment is with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
The two rotavirus vaccines currently being used are the Rotarix®, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, and RotaTeq®, manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc. South Africa was the first country in Africa to introduce the vaccine into its immunisation schedule in 2009. Since then 33 other countries in Africa have also adopted this. The results of the introduction have seen an average decline of of over 50% rotavirus hospitalisations.
Now, in India, a new “game changer” vaccine has been manufactured and licensed. The BRV-PV vaccine can be transported without the cold-chain. It is also cost half of the current vaccines approved for used worldwide. worldwide.
Medical Director of Medecins Sans Frontieres, Micaela Serafini, described the vaccine as fitting the needs of Africa. She also suggested that the vaccine will be able to reach the most remote places as it does not require refrigeration.
The new vaccine has been tried successfully in Niger. It showed 67% effectiveness which is promising for Africa. The vaccine is, however, pending approval from the World Health Organisation to be used worldwide.