Gastroenteritis vaccine success

Adding rotavirus to the childhood immunisation programme could prevent gastroenteritis episodes in the first two years of life, say Finnish researchers.

Each year in the EU, rotavirus is estimated to cause more than 200 deaths and nearly 700,000 out-patient appointments among the under-fives.

The study involved 3,994 children aged six to 14 weeks. Two-thirds were given two oral doses of human rotavirus vaccine. All were followed-up for an average of 17 months. Stool samples were collected in any bouts of gastroenteritis and tested for the presence of rotavirus.

Within six months of the first dose of vaccine being given, the researchers found an efficacy of 87.1 per cent in the treatment arm versus placebo. Two doses of rotavirus vaccine gave 78.9 per cent protection against rotavirus gastroenteritis of any severity.

Lancet 2007; 370: 1,757-63

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