India Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. JP Nadda administers Rotavac to an infant. The vaccine is the result of a decades-long international collaboration and sells for just $1. (Research Council of Norway Photo)
In 1996, Bill Gates read a story in the New York Times that sparked his passion for health. The story was about a disease he’d never heard of: rotavirus. At the time it killed more than half a million children every year.
That moment was one of the factors that led him to co-found the Gates Foundation with his wife, Melinda, and become one of the most influential figures in the history of public health.
What Gates didn’t know is halfway across the globe, a scientist in New Delhi had made a discovery that could be the key tool in fighting rotavirus. Over the next twenty years, a huge international collaboration between Bill Gates, scientists and policy makers across the globe and one exceptionally determined Indian entrepreneur turned that discovery into a unique new vaccine, called Rotavac.
The vaccine has made waves as a case study for global health solutions created in and by developing countries, with help from a network of international powers. It’s also getting attention for its incredibly low price: just $1 a dose.
We tell the story of how it all happened on the latest episode of GeekWire’s Health Tech Podcast. Listen to the episode in the player below, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app, and continue reading for more.
The story of Rotavac starts at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. A group of scientists led by Dr. Raj Bahn noticed that some of the children in the hospital appeared to have rotavirus, but did not develop the disease’s telltale symptom: diarrhea so intense it …read more