Merck Vaccine Recalled in Hong Kong, to Remain in Use in U.S.

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.

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About the author

Matthew Richmond is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

5 comments to “Merck Vaccine Recalled in Hong Kong, to Remain in Use in U.S.”

  1. Meg Oberreuter

    You have to wonder what else they have known all along is potentially harmful and have decided the benefit outweighs the risk. How many more ill children will it take to make them realize the damage to our future generations is surrounding this whole mess of a vaccine schedule. We cannot continue to run a county this way. Kudos to Hong Kong for taking the side of caution with their children.

  2. Breanna

    I think Dr’s should be required to give this info so you can decide whether or not YOUR child should have it. I just gave my baby this yesterday and if i would of known it wouldnt of been done! This is the only vaccination i allowed for my daughter to recieve and now im sorry i did that! It fusterates me that the dr’s will give it to my child knowing this information!

  3. Genevieve

    How about people just breastfeed their children as nature intended it has been proven more effective than the Rotavirus vaccine and it isn’t contaminated with live pig virus.

  4. Maurine Meleck

    This comes as no surprise that the US would not withdraw a vaccine that could be very unsafe. The US doesn’t really test vaccines anyway so this is no different from their usual stance. It’s gratifying to see, at least, that other countries are concerned enough about the safety issues with Rotateq to remove it from use. This is a very disturbing outcome on the part of the US.
    Maurine Meleck

  5. Garobsmed

    I’m not sure anyone who attended or listened to the advisory panel meeting would have come away from it with the impression that these viral contaminants have been definitively shown to be harmless. At best, this seems to be an unknown, no matter how they try to spin it. Get the transcripts when they are available and read them thoroughly.

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