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J Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 1;200 Suppl 1:S63-9. doi: 10.1086/605042.

Rotavirus vaccines for infants in developing countries in Africa and Asia: considerations from a world health organization-sponsored consultation.

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  • 1Initiative for Vaccine Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


The World Health Organization (WHO) and its international partners have prioritized the development of rotavirus vaccines for the past 3 decades. In November 2005, the WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts first reviewed the clinical efficacy data from 2 new live attenuated oral rotavirus vaccines, which demonstrated excellent protective efficacy against severe rotavirus disease in regions where they were evaluated. Despite these successes, the WHO has urged the clinical evaluation of these vaccines in populations of Africa and Asia, where most of the deaths due to rotavirus occur, and has emphasized the need for ongoing postlicensure safety monitoring in countries introducing vaccines. Clinical studies in Africa and Asia will soon provide data on the efficacy of both new vaccines in these populations. A WHO international consultative meeting convened to evaluate how to use these imminent data for the future use of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries. In brief, it was agreed that (1) even vaccines with lesser efficacy in developing countries, compared with industrialized countries, would still lead to substantial public health benefits and would be cost-effective in saving lives in Africa and Asia; (2) criteria, such as the WHO mortality strata and local epidemiology of rotavirus infection, would be appropriate measures for extrapolating the clinical data to other regions and countries; and (3) research toward understanding the programmatic limitations of rotavirus vaccine use may help develop strategies to improve vaccine uptake and overall impact.

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