The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) today recommended worldwide usage of rotavirus vaccines, a key advance for low-income countries in Africa and Asia who need financial support to introduce the vaccines as part of their national immunization programs. Rotavirus is the most common and deadly form of diarrheal disease, causing more than 500,000 deaths and more than two million hospitalizations each year.

“Preventing rotavirus through vaccination is the best way to protect children in low-resource settings,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “Sabin welcomes the WHO’s recommendation as it will enable lifesaving vaccines to reach the children who need them most.”

The WHO based its recommendation on new data from studies demonstrating the efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries where the rotavirus burden can be great. This decision extends a previous recommendation on the use of rotavirus vaccines in countries in North America, Latin America and Europe where clinical trials demonstrated their safety and effectiveness. The new recommendation enables developing nations in Africa and Asia—where more than 85 percent of rotavirus deaths occur—to apply for GAVI Alliance support for the introduction of rotavirus vaccines.

“Regardless of where they live, virtually all children become infected with rotavirus by the age of three. Yet, 90 percent of child deaths due to rotavirus occur in the world's poorest countries where access to medical care is often limited," said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, executive vice-president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “The WHO recommendation for global use of rotavirus vaccines underscores the need to protect children in low-resource settings and, when vaccines are introduced as part of a country’s national immunization program, they will prevent millions of needless deaths.”

The Sabin Vaccine Institute launched its rotavirus advocacy initiative in 2003 to call attention to the disease and its impact. Sabin works with its strategic partners to help educate policymakers and health officials about rotavirus and available vaccines to prevent it so they are equipped to make well-informed decisions to ensure access to safe vaccines for children all around the world.

For more information:

Ana Carvalho; 202-265-6515

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Sabin Vaccine Institute is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to reducing human suffering from infectious and neglected diseases. Through its efforts in vaccine research, development and advocacy, Sabin works to provide greater access to vaccines and essential medicines for millions mired in pain, poverty and despair. Founded in 1993 in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, discoverer of the oral polio vaccine, the Sabin Vaccine Institute works with prestigious institutions, scientists, medical professionals, and organizations to provide short and long-term solutions that result in healthier individuals, families and communities around the globe.

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