Research led by the University of Liverpool has played a key role in the development and introduction of the rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus is a highly infectious stomach bug that kills around 200,000 infants and children around the world each year.
For the past 20 years, Professor Nigel Cunliffe has led a long-term programme of rotavirus research in children in Malawi. This included a pivotal first clinical trial of a human rotavirus vaccine in Africa, which resulted in a global rotavirus vaccine recommendation by the World Health Organisation in 2009.
His team’s work underpinned the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine into Malawi’s childhood immunisation schedule in 2012. The UK followed in 2013 and the rotavirus vaccine is now part of the vaccination schedule in 96 countries around the world.
A recent evaluation of the impact of rotavirus vaccine in Malawi showed that it has reduced infant diarrhoea deaths by nearly a third.