Photo: A child at MSF’s intensive feeding center in Guidam Roumdji, Maradi region. Niger 2011 © Alessandra Vilas Boas
Rotavirus Research Results Show Need to Tailor Vaccines to Improve Their Impact
Cape Town/Geneva/New York, November 8, 2012- Research presented today by Epicentre, the epidemiological research arm of MSF and other African researchers, contributes to the growing body of evidence that the two existing rotavirus vaccines may not be best adapted for use in Africa.
“Vaccine developers have not taken into account the full rotavirus picture in places that are hardest hit by diarrheal illness and deaths caused by rotavirus,” said Dr. Anne-Laure Page, an epidemiologist at Epicentre. “This study adds to the growing body of research that underscores the need to ensure that vaccines are developed that effectively address the needs of developing countries.”
The two available rotavirus vaccines were developed and tested in industrialized countries, and have an efficacy rate of 90 percent against severe diarrhea in these countries, compared to an estimated 50-60 percent in countries in Africa and Asia. The current vaccines are also bulky and have a limited shelf life at room temperature, further making them unsuitable for developing countries that lack adequate refrigeration capacity.
“The fact that currently available vaccines are not easy to use in the places that are hardest to reach contributes to the fact that 22 million children born each year do not receive even the basic vaccination package,” said Elder.