Vaccine against rotavirus for newborns effective in Ghana – Study

VaccineThe vaccine given to newborns in Ghana to fight against rotavirus is 60% effective, a new study conducted by US–based Mayo Clinic has indicated.

According to the findings of the study, the vaccine may save thousands of lives in the country annually.

Rotavirus causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea, which in infants can cause severe dehydration. It is believed that rotavirus-related illness causes approximately 500,000 deaths per year in developing countries.

In the study which was published June 14, 2013, the Mayo Clinic said the first of two vaccine doses was administered within the first 29 days of life (neonatal dosing), and the second dose before 60 days of age.

About 998 newborns in Ghana were selected for the study from two of the poorest parts of the country, officials say.

“Half received the oral reassortant rotavirus tetravalent vaccine (RRV-TV) in the first two months of life, half received a placebo,” the report noted.

According to the clinic, results which were published in Oxford’s Journal of Infectious Diseases, showed a significant response in parameters of efficacy, safety and immune impact of the vaccine.

“For the first time in a large-scale study, we have demonstrated that protection against rotavirus gastroenteritis can be achieved earlier in life,” says the report’s co-author and pediatrician Robert M. Jacobson, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center.

According to the clinic officials, currently, there is no neonatal rotavirus vaccine available and infants do not receive their first dose of a rotavirus vaccine until they are approximately two months old, leaving younger infants at serious risk of rotavirus infection.

“The next step” says Dr Jacobson “should be additional studies in neonates to provide earlier protection against life-threatening rotavirus diarrhea.”

He added that there is a huge protection gap right now in the first months of life.

By Ekow Quandzie

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