This talk will cover the history of the human rotavirus vaccine- starting with the discovery of human rotavirus in Australia in 1973. I will then discuss how the early epidemiologic studies were facilitated by breakthroughs in modern viral diagnostics and the fact that the rotavirus is shed in very large amounts in the stool in all areas of the world. This characteristic greatly facilitated early epidemiologic analysis. I will then describe how the world-wide epidemiologic investigation clearly indicated the value a vaccine would have. We will then review initial vaccine efforts- their early success followed by a very major failure. The discussion of this initial failure will touch on a variety of ethical and fundamental risk vs. benefit issues. We will then go on to talk about how second-generation vaccine candidates were developed and found to be “safe and effective”, what that actually means and how these newer vaccines have proven to be very effective in the developed world, but appreciably less so in less developed countries where they are most needed. We will then move on to a discussion of new third generation vaccines being developed and produced exclusively in the less developed world by local manufacturers and how their cost has been substantially reduced to promote more wide-spread dissemination. Finally, we will wind up with a brief summary of where things stand today and what’s in store for the future.
Speaker: Dr. Harry Greenberg, Stanford
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