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07-15-2004, 13:42

Rotavirus Vaccine Approved for use in Mexico
15 Jul 2004

The announcement today by the Mexican Board of Health approving the use in Mexico of Rotarix (tm)--GlaxoSmithKline's new rotavirus vaccine--is a major step towards the eventual global use of vaccines to prevent rotavirus, which kills an estimated 400,000-500,000 children each year.

"This is an important global health development," said Dr. John Wecker, director of the Rotavirus Vaccine Program. "Rotavirus kills children, mostly in developing countries. A vaccine is the best option for preventing rotavirus and reducing child mortality. Today's announcement gives us great hope that soon rotavirus vaccines will be widely available. The challenge ahead for the global health community is to accelerate the introduction of rotavirus vaccines to the world's poorest countries, where the need is greatest."

Each year approximately 500,000 children die from diarrheal disease caused by rotavirus, and another 2 million are hospitalized. Some 85 percent of deaths occur in developing countries where access to treatment is limited; however, rotavirus diarrhea is a global infection and nearly every child in the world will suffer an episode of diarrhea caused by rotavirus before five years of age.