Diarrhoea vaccine saves £12.5 million in UK healthcare costs

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A sharp decline is seen in the cases of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) among children aged <2 y in general practice in 2 y after the introduction of monovalent live-attenuated oral vaccine Rotarix (GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals) in 2013.

The results, published in the Vaccine, showed that 64,457 cases in general practice, 10,236 in emergency department visits, and 12,683 cases in hospitalisations were averted.

The research funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in partnership with Public Health England at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, estimated a reduction of £12.5 million in healthcare costs.

The seasonal peak in the February-March months of historically high rotavirus circulation disappeared.  Incidence of AGE also reduced in other young children and older individuals who were ineligible for rotavirus vaccination, suggesting herd immunity.

In the UK, Rotarix was introduced as a 2-dose schedule given at 2 and 3 mo of age. The vaccine coverage reached 93% for 1 dose and 88% for 2 doses at the end of 1 y.

The researchers used data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink for general practice analyses, and data on hospitalisations and ED visits for cost analysis.

“In infants, general practice acute gastroenteritis rates dropped by 15% overall, with a 41% reduction in high rotavirus season and a 19% reduction in the medium season,” the authors said.

“The vaccine had high uptake among infants, and marked decrease in incident AGE episodes among children aged <2 y seen in the 2 y after vaccine introduction suggests the reduction in the AGE burden seen can be attributed to prevention of AGE cases caused by the vaccine-specific pathogen,” they added.