New Delhi: In a bid to prevent measles deaths, the Indian government is to launch a nationwide trial of the MMR, a new vaccine developed by the US vaccine giant Merck.
The trial will be a major challenge for India’s government, which has struggled to contain a spike in measles cases and deaths.
It will test whether the MMR works well in a country where almost 90% of children are under six years old.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said India has a “serious measles epidemic” and called for a global vaccine strategy to fight the disease.
In an emailed response to questions, a Merck spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with the Government of India to provide vaccines that meet its current needs.
We have been meeting with India’s National Health Mission (NIMD) to share our findings and understand their approach to vaccination.”
Meningitis vaccines have a 90% success rate in preventing measles.
India is also in the middle of an international debate on a vaccine strategy.
WHO experts say the vaccine could be better than existing vaccines for protecting against measles and diphtheria.
The WHO has recommended the use of two vaccines for protection against measles, although they do not have a complete vaccine.
In India, the country has more than 200 million children, the WHO says.
India’s Ministry of Health has been reluctant to say whether it is testing the MMR or another vaccine.
The ministry said the vaccine was being tested and will be ready for a national phase-in on May 23.
The vaccine is being developed by Merck, a multinational pharmaceutical company, and has been approved by the WHO in Europe, where the vaccine is currently being tested.