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July 3, 1987

Experimental Rotavirus Vaccine Passes First Test; Eventual Goal: Immunize Newborns Against Most Prevalent Cause of Life-Threatening Diarrhea

JAMA. 1987;258(1):12-13. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400010014004

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AN EXPERIMENTAL vaccine was completely successful in protecting 123 infants (1 to 10 months of age) against the most severe episodes of rotaviral diarrhea, reports a team of investigators from the United States and Venezuela (Lancet 1987;1:882-884).

Furthermore, only one of 68 vaccinated infants under 5 months of age developed any symptoms at all of rotaviral infection, the investigators reported, compared with 15 such illnesses in 65 infants who were not vaccinated.

Rotaviruses, first identified in 1973, are so common that nearly everyone develops antibodies to them before three years of age. Jorge Flores, MD, a visiting scientist at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md, and one of the study's principal investigators, says: "The rates of infection are as high in Washington, DC, as they are in Bangladesh. It's a very democratic virus. The outcome [of infection] depends on the extent and availability of medical