A powdered vaccine could prevent one of the top killers of children — the rotavirus. Experts said this could lead to saving around 100,000 children every year.
The new vaccine is around 70 percent effective against the virus. Rotavirus is a pathogen that gives children diarrhea and sometimes leads to death. Annually, 200,000 children die from rotavirus in developing countries.
This is not the first time a developed oral vaccine promised a decrease in the number of deaths but scientists believe this will lead to the biggest drop. But it is the first rotavirus vaccine designed to be effective for children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Zulfiqar Bhutta, who studies global health at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, says the rotavirus vaccine is different from the first vaccines because it does not need to be refrigerated. The vaccine is kept at room temperature for years but if the temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it could only last for six months.
This makes the vaccine very useful for countries not equipped with technology to preserve vaccines. Bhutta is not involved in the study but has information about the matter, VOA News reported.
Sub-Saharan Africa is not the only country targeted by the makers of the vaccine. Southern Asian countries can also use the vaccine since it is one of the rural places in the world with some areas still do not have electricity or clinics.
"This is important for increasing the reach of the vaccine, for reaching those who need the vaccine the most - the poorest of the poor," Bhutta said.
Health workers will dissolve the new rotavirus powder vaccine in water in order to make a salt solution. Children infected with the virus do not have to drink the whole solution as a few drops are said to be enough. The World Health Organization has yet to approve the new vaccine, NPR said.
Rebecca Grais, the leader in the testing of the vaccine, said the World Health Organization will most likely approve it. Grais also promised the vaccine's price is cheaper than those currently in the market. Meanwhile, the report about the vaccine was detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.