Two brands of rotavirus vaccine licensed in the United States are under review in France after two infant deaths from intussusception in 2012 and 2014. A report has been submitted by the French licensing agency, the MSNA, to the ‘General Directorate of Health’. The brands include the Merck Rotateq vaccine, of which leading compulsory vaccination advocate Paul Offit was co-inventor and share-holder, and GSK’s Rotarix vaccine. The issue is particularly controversial because rotavirus itself only causes diarrhoea (and occasional hospital admissions) in the developed world while the vaccines are associated with mortality and the dangerous condition of intussusception. The MSNA report apparently added that there were other worrying side effects.
While these orally administered vaccines are seldom given on their own they are peculiarly associated with mortality, currently 305 on the US database VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System) for Rotateq and 108 for Rotarix. However, Prof Offit may take consolation from the fact that the rate of death fromintussusception was twice as bad on VAERS for the GSK product.