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Contacts: Eileen Quinn, 202.454.5005, equinn@path.org; Xiaoming Yang, +86.27.88842261, xmyang@wibp.com.cn.

Seattle, July 9, 2007—PATH and China National Biotec Group/Wuhan Institute of Biological Products (WIBP) announced a partnership to manufacture a new rotavirus vaccine for use in the developing world. The collaboration will accelerate the development timetable to make the new vaccine available as quickly as possible to the children who need it most.

Rotavirus is a leading killer of children in the developing world, responsible for more than 500,000 deaths worldwide each year. In Asia alone, rotavirus kills 250,000 children under five each year, and is responsible for nearly half of all hospitalizations for severe, dehydrating diarrhea. Because the virus is highly contagious and resilient, vaccination remains the best method for preventing the spread of the disease.

Wuhan will produce a rotavirus vaccine with components licensed from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The vaccine, a human bovine reassortant vaccine, will protect against the diverse types of rotavirus disease that occur in Asia. “We are committed to making this vaccine rapidly available and protecting children from rotavirus disease,” comments Dr. Xiaoming Yang, professor and deputy director of WIBP, “and we look forward to collaborating with PATH.”

“We are pleased to be partnering with an industry leader such as WIBP,” notes Janet Vail, Director of PATH’s China Program. “This work will be an important step in making vaccines readily available and more affordable.” PATH will provide product development assistance and financial support to speed up the development process.

According to Dr. Albert Kapikian, who led the development work on this rotavirus vaccine at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, the vaccine is designed to protect against rotavirus disease strains of long-term importance as well as important rotavirus strains that have emerged more recently in Asia and Africa.

Two vaccines against rotavirus—manufactured by GSK and Merck—are currently licensed and in use in many countries. However, over the next few years, demand for rotavirus vaccine is expected to outstrip current production capacity, hindering the availability of the vaccines to the countries where they are needed most. To improve affordability and ensure a sufficient vaccine supply for widespread use in developing countries, PATH is working with manufacturers in China and India to develop two promising candidates into safe, effective, and affordable new vaccines. A recent health impact and market analysis conducted by PATH estimates that advancing vaccine introduction in low-income countries by as little as two to four years would save between 200,000 and 500,000 lives.