India has developed its first vaccine – Rotavac-- under public-private partnership. The indigenous low-cost vaccine, to prevent rotavirus diarrhoea that claims the lives of about 1 lakh children a year, will soon hit the market. Priced at around Rs 54 ($1), it will be a boon for developing countries that are fighting the killer virus.

“This is an important scientific breakthrough against rotavirus infections, the most severe and lethal cause of childhood diarrhoea, responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths of small children in India each year,” K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, said here on Tuesday.

Announcing the completion of phase III of the clinical trials of the vaccine, he said data from the trial showed Rotavac to have an “excellent safety and efficacy profile.” The vaccine was developed by the Department of Biotechnology and Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based company, after 18 years of research.

“Rotavac significantly reduced severe rotavirus diarrhoea by more than half – 56 per cent – during the first year of life, with protection continuing into the second year of life,” an official statement said.

Bharat Biotech’s Chairman and Managing Director Krishna M. Ella, said, “Rotavac will soon file for registration in India. If licensed by the Drugs Controller General of India, the vaccine will be a more affordable alternative to the rotavirus vaccines already in the market.”