Health authorities in Hong Kong on Friday ordered the recall of rotavirus vaccine contaminated by a pig virus, though members of an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the vaccine did not appear to create health risks and should still be used.
The Rotateq vaccine recalled in Hong Kong is made by Merck and is one of two U.S.-approved rotavirus vaccines. The recall comes two months after the FDA recommended that doctors suspend use of the other rotavirus vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix, because it was found to be contaminated by the porcine virus. Now more sensitive tests have turned up pig virus in the Merck vaccine, too.
Without a virus-free vaccine to choose from, members of the FDA advisory panel said that use of the vaccines should continue because the benefits outweigh the risks. The pig virus is not known to cause human illness, and rotavirus can cause severe diarrhea and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of infants each year, particularly in developing countries.
Officials in Hong Kong described the recall as a precautionary measure in response to quality control issues involving the Rotateq vaccine.
The lack of a virus-free version of rotavirus vaccine may cause the FDA to revise its warning to avoid Rotarix, reports MedPage Today.