WHO awards prequalification to Bharat Bios Rotavirus vaccine

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India's vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has announced receiving prequalification from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its rotavirus vaccine Rotavac, considered the developing world's first rotavirus vaccine. 

The vaccine to prevent infant deaths and hospitalisations due to rotavirus diarrhoea was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2015. 

In a statement, the Hyderabad headquartered biopharmaceuticals firm said the WHO prequalification was necessary for United Nations agencies and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to purchase the vaccine in partnership with developing countries. It will also help accelerate availability of the vaccine to the developing countries with the highest burden of disease. 

India had introduced the rotavirus vaccine into its national immunization program in 2016 with around 35 million doses were delivered so far. 

"We are honored and delighted to become the first rotavirus vaccine from the developing world and India to be WHO prequalified," said Dr Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech. "We feel proud to dedicate this innovated in India and Made in India vaccine to the world." 

Ella said the rotavirus vaccine was being supplied to low income countries at $1 a dose with feasibility for further price reduction of around 30% based on procurement of around 100 million doses for these countries. 

Bharat Biotech said the vaccine was developed as a result of a multi country and multi partner collaborative model for over two decades. 

The public private social innovative partnership included the Government of India's Department of Biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Indian Institute of Science, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute, the Society for Applied Studies, Christian Medical College Vellore, King Edwards Memorial Hospital Pune, Stanford University School of Medicine, the US National Institutes of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University and PATH.