Gates funds two Indian vaccine firms

The Bill and Melinda Gates philanthropy machine rolls on. This week the foundation is backing two firms in India researching vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhea. Both Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India are conducting clinical trials of a new rotavirus vaccine to prevent diarrhea in children; Serum is also working on a pneumonia vaccine. Gates will fund clinical trials of the shot, though the foundation did not specify how much money each developer would receive. The Economic Times estimates rotavirus clinical studies could eat up $30 million while pneumonia would cost up to $20 million.

Bharat already has Phase III trials of its rotavirus vaccine underway, and Serum says it's three years away from launching its two vaccines. Serum plans to sell its products for half the price of existing vaccines from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

In a recent visit to the country, Gates urged India to intensify programs to vaccinate children in the country, particularly against polio and tuberculosis. "Increasing routine childhood immunizations is critical to improving the health of children in India," said Melinda Gates in a statement.

- here's the Economic Times article
- read more on the Gateses visit