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Rotavirus Vaccine Urged for Babies:

Rating

2 Star

Rotavirus Vaccine Urged for Babies:

Our Review Summary

In this story we learn that there is a new rotavirus vaccine for babies, replacing an earlier vaccine that had been pulled from the market due to safety concerns. This vaccine is FDA approved and now available. Although there is mention of a large study conducted by Merck, there is no description of the study design, so readers have no way of evaluating the strength of the evidence and no quantitative estimates of benefit are provided. The fundamental question, ‘how well does the vaccine work?’ is left unanswered. Furthermore, the story states that this vaccine appears to be safer than the previous one, however there is no evidence provided to support this claim. The author states that the vaccine will cost $187.50 for the three-dose series, making it one of the most expensive vaccines ever marketed. Although the author does say that this cost will put a strain on state-sponsored vaccination programs, there is no attempt to try to quantify the magnitude of this strain or comment on the potential cost-effectiveness of this new vaccination program. The costs are likely to be significant. Even if the U.S. healthcare system will be able to pay for it, Americans are the least likely to benefit from it since only 50-60 American children die of rotavirus per year. In third world countries, however, the story is different. Thousands of children worldwide die every year from rotavirus infection because of the lack of good medical care to treat the symptoms, and one wonders if Third World children will have access to this drug.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The author states that the vaccine will cost $187.50 for the three-dose series, making it one of the most expensive vaccines ever marketed. Although the author does say that this cost will put a strain on state-sponsored vaccination programs, there is no attempt to try to quantify the magnitude of this strain or comment on the potential cost-effectiveness of this new vaccination program.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

No quantitative estimates of benefit are provided. How well does the vaccine work?

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The author states that this vaccine appears to be safer than the previous one, however there is no evidence provided to support this claim. Although not statistically significant, there were more cases of intusussecption with the vaccine in the trials.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Although there is mention of a large study conducted by Merck, there is no description of the study design, therefore, we have no way of evaluating the strength of the evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

Although the author provides some information on the prevalence and seriousness of rotavirus in the US and abroad, he does not mention that there are multiple strands of rotavirus and the vaccine is not equally effective against all of them. The vaccine is about 75% effective in preventing disease (especially severe diarrhea) and the incidence of emergency room visits and hospitalizations is also reduced. The author does exaggerate the seriousness of rotavirus in the U.S, because although all kids get infected with the virus, few have disease from it and it only accounts for about 40-50 deaths.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The author does quote an independent source, an epidemiologist from the CDC.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of alternatives.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

There is no evidence that this story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 10 Satisfactory

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