Celebrating ROTAVAC: a rotavirus vaccine success story for India and the world

Mar 19, 2018


Laura Edison Kallen
Scientific Communications Officer, PATH

The ROTAVAC® story

The ROTAVAC® story began more than three decades ago in India, when researchers discovered an unusual strain of rotavirus that infected newborns without making them sick. Research teams working under the bilateral Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme conducted critical early-stage research to develop the vaccine candidate and selected Bharat Biotech to lead the development efforts. In 2001, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH came on board as part of an international consortium continuing the work through Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in partnership with the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Society for Applied Studies (SAS). With promising results from those trials, a Phase 3 efficacy study was launched in March 2011 across three sites in India. Altogether, more than 7,000 infants were enrolled in ROTAVAC® clinical trials.


Efficacy results announced in May 2013 led to India’s licensure of ROTAVAC in early 2014. India began a phased introduction of the vaccine in its national immunization program starting in 2016, with Bharat Biotech supplying approximately 30 million doses to the Indian government to date. Now WHO-prequalified, ROTAVAC® is ready to tackle diarrhea in other low-resource nations, saving even more children’s lives around the world.

ROTAVAC was a unique partnership program that grew into a unique friendship built on trust and mutual confidence in this vaccine and our mission. - Dr. Rao, DBT

A celebration of success, partnership, and child health

To honor the partners that worked on this vaccine for several decades, PATH hosted a celebration in its Seattle office. Titled From Research to Reality, the event featured remarks from PATH CEO Steve Davis, Dr. T.S. Rao from DBT, SAS President Dr. Nita Bhandari, Bharat Biotech co-founders Krishna and Suchitra Ella, Stanford University researcher Harry Greenberg, and a special video message from Bill Gates.

Event participants posing for a photo

The overall theme of the night was partnership. All speakers agreed that the unique partnership across sectors, continents, and cultures was crucial to the success of the vaccine, as well as the generosity of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the partners’ shared passion for saving lives and improving the health of children worldwide.

Or, as Dr. Rao said, “ROTAVAC was a unique partnership program that grew into a unique friendship built on trust and mutual confidence in this vaccine and our mission.”

Watch a video about ROTAVAC's journey from Bharat Biotech.