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Rotavirus Vaccine Significantly Reduces Child Diarrhoea Deaths

ROTAVIRUS vaccine should be included in all national immunisation programmes in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, a study by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK, in collaboration with other institutions, has found. This conclusion follows the results of a population-level analysis of the impact of the rotavirus vaccination on diarrhoea deaths among children in Malawi.

Reduced Risk

The investigators found there was a 34% lower risk of death from diarrhoea in those receiving the vaccination among a cohort of 48,672 infants in Malawi, a low-income country that introduced the vaccine in October 2012.

Study lead Prof Nigel Cunliffe, University of Liverpool, commented: “Rotavirus remains a leading cause of severe diarrhoea and death among infants and young children in many countries in Africa and Asia. Our findings strongly advocate for the incorporation of rotavirus vaccine into the childhood immunisation programmes of countries with high rates of diarrhoea deaths, and support continued use in such countries where a vaccine has been introduced.”

Additionally, a direct association between the proportion of the population vaccinated and lower mortality rates was observed, with Malawi able to reach up to 90% of the population within a year of the vaccine being introduced. It is hoped that more countries will now follow suit.

Introduced in All Countries

“We already knew that rotavirus vaccine reduces hospital admissions and is highly cost-effective in low-income countries with a high burden of diarrhoeal disease, and now we’ve been able to demonstrate that it saves lives,” added co-lead author Dr Naor Bar-Leev, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland, USA. “However, not all countries are vaccinating against rotavirus yet, including some very populous countries. The key message of this paper is that to do the best by all our children and to help them survive, all countries should introduce rotavirus vaccination.”

Population-Level Study

To make their findings, the homes of infants in 1,832 villages were visited by a study team of >1,100 people during a 4-year period to collect the necessary data, due to a lack of birth and death registries, which is common in low-income African countries. The team uncovered information including the vaccination status of the infants and whether they survived to 1 year of age.

 

James Coker, Reporter

For the source and further information about the study, click here.