New Rotavirus Vaccine Doesn’t Require Refrigeration

Rotavirus claims over 200,000 children each year in developing countries. A new rotavirus vaccine shows promise in addressing rotavirus in these areas. Previous rotavirus vaccines required refrigeration, affecting their transit, storage and ultimate efficacy in places like sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

A infant in Mozambique receives an oral vaccine. Photo by Tara Haelle during a reporting fellowship from the International Reporting Project.

The new vaccine, BRV-PV, was designed especially to be effective where it is needed most. It does not require refrigeration, a key asset for those in hotter climates and poorer areas without access to electricity. The vaccine, developed by Serum Institute of India, was found to be 70% effective in preventing rotavirus in patients in Niger in research led by Epicentre. The vaccine protects against five strains of rotavirus.

During vaccine development, the vaccine was freeze dried, making it heat stable. The vaccine is stable at 37°C (98.6°F) for two years or at 40°C (104°F) for six months. Health workers dissolve the vaccine in a salt solution and administer it orally. The vaccine is currently under prequalification review with the World Health Organization and is expected to cost less than current rotavirus vaccines. If approved for use, BRV-PV would be available and affordable in developing countries and could make a lasting impact on a disease affecting thousands of children.

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