Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rotarix: HSA assures us that it is safe

By now you might have heard of the news of the concern over the Rotarix Vaccine containing some pig virus. Both GSK, the manufacturer and all the leading authorities have looked at the matter and assured us that despite containing the virus, the vaccine is still safe for consumption.

Of course, I know that a lot of parents will still be very concerned about this issue. I would too.

I have spoken to the people at GSK and the way I interpret the situation is as follows. The virus concerned is normally found in pigs and is even found in the pork that is sold for consumption. Due to some new methods of surveillance, they detected fragments of the virus in Rotarix. The scientists are currently investigating how this viral fragment got into the manufacturing process since there is no use of animal parts.

Rotarix is not a vaccine that is injected into the body, but rather taken orally. We know that consumption of the virus does not affect humans, since we would also inadvertantly eat the virus when we eat pork. In fact the virus is not known to cause any disease in pigs or human. Furthermore, it is not the whole virus that is present, but only a fragment of the virus. So if you follow this logic, it should still be safe for babies to be given the vaccine.

So, what should you do?

At this point in time, Rotarix is not a compulsory vaccine, so the decision to give or not to give it is up to the parents. Since the first dose of Rotarix needs to be given before 14 weeks of age, if your baby is still very young, you can perhaps wait for further news on the subject before deciding. On the other hand, one has to still keep in mind that Rotarix has been very useful in preventing severe diarrhoea in babies and so its benefits still outweigh the risks.

I will keep everyone informed of the news about this subject as it unfolds. In the meantime, you might also want to check out the press release by GSK by clicking here.

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