News / Asia

India Develops Lowest-Cost Vaccine to Prevent Diarrhea

Indian mother fans her child with her sari as the child awaits treatment for diarrhea at a government-run children's hospital in Allahabad, India, June 25, 2009.
Indian mother fans her child with her sari as the child awaits treatment for diarrhea at a government-run children's hospital in Allahabad, India, June 25, 2009.
Anjana Pasricha
India says it has developed a low cost vaccine to prevent diarrhea - a disease that claims the lives of tens of thousands of infants and young children in developing countries. It is expected to be on the market by next year, and is being hailed as a significant breakthrough.
 
Health officials say that clinical test results indicate the new vaccine is safe and effective against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea in children under the age of five.   

Rotavirus is spread through contaminated hands and surfaces, and is common in poor communities across Asia and Africa. The severe dehydration that babies suffer due to a bout of diarrhea takes a toll of half a million children every year.

There are two vaccines in the market for rotavirus developed by multinational drug firms. But their high cost has kept them out of reach for many children across Asia and Africa.  

The vaccine developed in India will be just $1 per dose, making it affordable for both families and governments who want to make it part of their national immunization programs.   

Doctor M.K. Bhan, who helped develop the vaccine from a strain of the virus discovered in a hospital where he worked in New Delhi many years ago, said it cuts by more than half the risk of diarrhea for very young children. Bhan said it will be administered to infants when they are just a few weeks old.

“This is six, 10 and 14 weeks of age with other vaccines and three doses, so it will fit into our immunization program," he explained. "It gives protection for two years and almost 95 per cent of the rotavirus disease is over by two years of age. Part of the social contract is it will a dollar a dose vaccine for the entire world.”  

The vaccine will go to the regulator in about a month and could hit the market in less than a year in India. It will have to be approved by the World Health Organization before it can be distributed globally.

The development of the vaccine has been hailed by groups like the GAVI Alliance, which helps poor countries in vaccination programs. It says cheaper prices will make it possible to immunize more children, ease shortages and drive down the cost charged by other manufacturers. 

Dr. Bhan, who is a pediatrician, says prevention of diarrhea is important because children who get it are not just at risk of dying. Treating it is also traumatic.
Dr. Bhan explains it is not easy to administer oral rehydration syrup (ORS) to children in hospitals to prevent dehydration.      
 
“A nine-month old baby, who has some dehydration, if you have to administer ORS, even for me who is supposed to be an expert in this area, it is nightmarish," the doctor admitted.  "I used to get frightened administering ORS to a nine-month old baby who was sick. And for poor mothers negotiating hospitals in the middle of the night, it is a tough task. We need prevention, I am all for prevention. The poorer the country, more important prevention is.”  

The development of the vaccine is also being described as a path breaking example of an innovative collaboration between the Indian government, the private sector and groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Part of the investment in the vaccine’s development has been borne by Bharat Biotech, a private Indian drug company. While India’s drug industry is well known for making low cost generic drugs, it is often faulted for not paying enough attention to supporting research.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid