Global Vaccine Safety

Statement of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety on Rotarix

26 March 2010

On 25 March 2010, WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) met by teleconference to review new data on Rotarix, an oral vaccine for prevention of rotavirus gastroenteritis. Academic investigators recently reported to the vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, that the vaccine contains DNA from porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV1). PCV1 is not known to cause disease in animals or humans. Further analysis of the master cell bank and master viral seed used for vaccine production have demonstrated the presence of PCV1 DNA, which in retrospect has been in the vaccine throughout its clinical development, including the prelicensure clinical trials. There are studies underway both by the manufacturer and others that will provide additional information to help more fully assess this new finding.

The safety of Rotarix is supported by both large clinical trials prelicensure and an extensive (>60 million doses) postlicensure safety experience. GACVS reviewed the safety data from both clinical trials and spontaneous reports, both of which supported the continued safety of Rotarix. Rotavirus gastroenteritis is the most common cause of severe diarrheal disease in young children throughout the world, with an estimated 527 000 deaths annually among children under five years old. Given the extensive clinical data supporting the safety of Rotarix and the benefits of rotavirus vaccination for children, GACVS considers that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any currently known risk associated with use of Rotarix. GACVS will continue to review data as it becomes available and will update this statement as we learn more.