Sunday Feb 05, 2023

Four African Countries Hit by Rotavirus Vaccine Shortage

Four African Countries Hit by Rotavirus Vaccine Shortage

After disruptions at drugmaker GSK, African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal and Cameroon have run out of vaccines to prevent deadly rotavirus infection in children. According to the World health organization, approximately 200,000 children die each year due to rotavirus infections which are the leading cause of severe dehydrating gastroenteritis in children under the age of five. Officials at GSK confirmed that there is a shortage of around 4 million doses of its Rotarix vaccine this year and is currently pursuing plans to address the deficit. According to industry sources the drop in Rotarix supplies in 2022 is due to delays and staff absences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As health services rush to regain ground lost on routine childhood immunization during coronavirus pandemic, these new vaccine supply problems are a blow to the national health services. According to UNICEF, COVID-19 disruptions represented the biggest step backwards in a generation for childhood immunizations

UNICEF works closely with GSK to supply rotavirus vaccines to poorer countries, alongside national governments. Both organizations are attempting to procure vaccines made by other manufacturers from other countries with spare doses. Rotarix is given in two oral doses; first dose is given to infants from 6 weeks of age and the second dose is given at least 4 weeks after the first and not later than 24 weeks. Therefore, the Rotarix vaccine adds to the time pressure on inoculations. Similar rotavirus vaccine called Rotavac made by Bharat Biotech is also undergoing delays due to regulatory procedures and new government guidelines on vaccine approvals.

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