Even with the heightened hysteria surrounding vaccines, the medical
tool is something of a modern day miracle. A few shots can
prevent you from contracting particular diseases, diseases
which have left many
people dead in their wake. While vaccines themselves are
innovative, we have seen a
push for a patch, inhalants,
and we see one that might resemble the
powder that NASA frequently called astronaut ice cream.
Rotavirus is a disease common to developing countries,
leaving over 200,000 children each year dead. The disease
induces diarrhea, which leads to dehydration, and
consequently death. While there have been rotavirus vaccines
in the past, the oral vaccine developed by scientists is
changing the game completely, especially in areas where it is
needed most urgently.
Vaccines in sub-Saharan Africa normally need refrigeration, a
difficult condition to satisfy when vaccines need to be
transported hundreds of kilometers from village to
village. Vaccines are active proteins and therefore
do not perform at optimal temperatures if they are
stored in an environment too cold or too warm. If this
occurs, the vaccine’s structure may be compromised, affecting
their potency. With the new BRV-PV vaccines, this is not an
Vaccines without Borders
The BRV-PV vaccine can work in locations that are lacking
in electricity or health clinics. The vaccine was
freeze-dried by scientists at the Serum
Institute of India by dipping it into liquid nitrogen and
removing water with a vacuum. The dry powder residue left
over is extremely durable and can be transported with ease.
For use, a health worker can dissolve the powder in
salt water and put a few drops on an infant’s tongue.
While the BRV-PV has yet to be approved by World Health
Organization (WHO), it is well on its way. The vaccine was
first tested in 2014 with 3,500 babies in Niger. After the
children received three doses of the vaccine, severe cases
of rotavirus were cut down by more than two-thirds.
Using the freeze-drying method on vaccines proved to be
and importantly, cost effective. In the future,
widespread implementation of these methods would break global
health barriers rapidly.