The Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, recently launched the first indigenously developed and manufactured oral rotavirus vaccine – Rotavac. The vaccine is expected to boost efforts to combat infant mortality due to diarrhoea. Developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the Department of Biotechnology, the vaccine is likely to be available for sale in India from this week. In fact, 13 institutions, including the Department of Biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the US National Institutes of Health and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Stanford University, the Research Council of Norway, PATH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed to the project.
According to a joint paper that was released last year by the project’s partners in Lancet, the vaccine is as good as expensive alternatives from GlaxoSmithKline and Merck. Priced at Rs 54 (85 cents), the vaccine is priced even lower than the initially promised US$ 1/dose. Considering the fact that half of the world’s rotavirus diarrhoeal deaths are reported from India, the three-dose indigenously developed vaccine is expected to bring down the number. The vaccine is also expected to be exported to the other developing countries in order to combat diarrhoea.
India is already a big exporter of medical talent with quality doctors and nurses from the country working across the world. With the launch of Rotavac, India has made the right impact in the area of health services, especially when governments across the world are dealing with the problem of rising healthcare expenditure. With a strong presence in generics, quality talent available in the country can be expected to produce many more meaningful solutions in coming times.