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Rotavirus vaccine success

The UK is a step closer to preventing rotavirus infection in babies and young children after trials of two vaccines showed promising results.

Rotateq, a vaccine developed by Merck, and Rotarix, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, showed 98 and 85 per cent efficacy respectively against severe rotaviral infection.

The trials, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, also found no increased risk of intersusseption ­ a complication that led to the withdrawal of a previous rotavirus vaccine in 1999.

Dr David Brown, director of the Health Protection Agency virus reference department at the Centre for Infections, said the results were significant.

'Studies are in progress to estimate the burden of disease in the UK in 2006 and conduct a cost-benefit analysis to inform discussions about the introduction of a vaccine,' he added.

In the Rotateq study, 68,000 infants aged six to 12 weeks received either three oral doses of the vaccine or placebo.

Efficacy against four types of rotavirus contained in the vaccine over one rotavirus season was 74 per cent overall and 98 per cent in severe disease. There were 86 per cent fewer clinic visits in the vaccine group.

Results of the Rotarix trial in 63,000 infants showed it was effective against the most common strain of rotavirus and prevented 85 per cent of severe cases. Hospitalisation for diarrhoea of any cause fell 42 per cent.

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