Context: With rotavirus vaccines now available globally, it will be useful to assemble the available evidence on the epidemiology and burden of rotavirus gastroenteritis in India, in order to weigh the urgency of introducing a vaccine to help control rotavirus disease.
Evidence acquisition: We reviewed published studies on rotavirus infection and genotype distribution in India, as well as safety and immunogenicity studies of currently available vaccines. PubMed was searched for papers published after 1990, and several authors who are experts in the field recommended papers of known significance.
Results: Rotavirus accounts for close to 40% of hospitalizations for diarrhea in India, with more recent studies showing an increased proportion compared with older studies. There is substantial serotype diversity in India, although there is less intra-country variation than previously thought. Two genotypes, G1P and G2P, account for roughly 50% of symptomatic infections in non-neonates. Currently licensed vaccines are safe, and although the efficacy appears lower in developing countries, given the extremely high incidence of diarrhea these could still be cost-effective interventions.
Conclusions: The epidemiology and burden of rotavirus diarrhea is fairly well characterized in India. Introducing rotavirus vaccine into the UIP, along with adequate surveillance, should be an important part of efforts to reduce diarrhea mortality, the third leading cause of death among Indian children, and achieve the country's MDG goals.