Science and Society lecture: Protecting the world’s children against rotavirus

baby being given an orla rotavirus vaccine in Malawi

Rotavirus is a highly infectious stomach bug that kills almost half a million infants and young children each year, with most deaths occuring in developing countries.

In our latest Science and Society Lecture, Professor Nigel Cunliffe, Co-Director of the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Global Vaccine Research, will review major achievements in the battle against rotavirus and explore remaining challenges to successful disease control.

Reducing childhood deaths

To reduce the the global burden of rotavirus, which is the most common cause of diarrhoea among infants and young children, oral vaccines have been developed and introduced in countries across the world, including here in the UK. However, 60 millions infants live in low-income countries that have not yet introduced vaccines, so their greatest value in reducing childhood deaths is yet to be fully realised.

For the past decade, Professor Cunliffe has led a long-term programme of rotavirus research in children in Malawi. This included a pivotal, Phase III clinical trial of human rotavirus vaccine that resulted in a global rotavirus vaccine recommendation by the World Health Organisation in 2009.

His team’s work underpinned the introduction of rotavirus vaccine into Malawi’s childhood immunisation schedule in 2012. The UK followed in 2013, and rotavirvus vaccine is now part of the vaccination schedule in 38 other countries around the world.

However, despite the vaccine clearly reducing the number of babies suffering from diarrhoea, it’s success rate varies and Professor Cunliffe is currently leading a study to understand why rotavirus vaccines work more effectively in the UK and other high income countries than in poorer countries such as Malawi and India.

Information and booking:

‘Rotavirus vaccination: successes and challenges’ takes place in the Leggate Theatre, Victoria Gallery & Museum on Tuesday, 9 May at 5.30pm. Admission is free but places must be booked.

For more information and to register your place please visit our Events website:

Professor Nigel Cunliffe

This Science and Science Lecture takes place ahead of Open House – our series of public events running between 15-25 May that promises to involve, inspire, inform and intrigue. For more information about Open House please visit:





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