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WHO Advises Continued Use Of GSK’s Rotavirus Vaccine In Developing Countries

The WHO on Monday advised developing countries to continue administering GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix vaccine – which offers protection to children against the diarrhea-causing rotavirus – after the FDA advised doctors in the U.S. to temporarily stop using the vaccine following the discovery that it was “contaminated with an apparently harmless pig virus,” Reuters reports (Fox, 3/22). “Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe childhood diarrhea and causes more than 500,000 deaths from dehydration among young children worldwide, mostly in countries where vaccination isn’t common,” the Wall Street Journal writes (Corbett Dooren/Favole, 3/23).

“In many countries, rotavirus causes so much severe illness and death that the known benefits of continued use of Rotarix far outweigh any theoretical risk of harm from the vaccine,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a written statement, the New York Times reports (Harris, 3/22). According to the Los Angeles Times, “An estimated 69 million doses of the vaccine have been administered globally,” according to the newspaper (Maugh, 3/23).

Agence France-Presse reports that officials from the European Medicines Agency, the WHO, Canada and the U.S. are expected to meet within days to discuss the situation and future actions (3/22).