Rotavirus was recognized as the most important pathogen causing estimated 600,000 deaths each year, mostly in developing countries and millions of hospitalization worldwide before rotavirus vaccines were introduced. Diarrhea has been one of the most common diseases among young children in China. However, before 1990s, rotavirus was not a known cause and was not recognized as a public health problem in China. China CDC, with the support of US CDC, the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, and pharmaceutical companies -- Merck and GSK, started a sentinel surveillance network and was a founding member of the Asian Rotavirus Surveillance Network, a group of 9 countries in Asia involved in hospital based surveillance of rotavirus and characterization of rotavirus strains. The data from the sentinel surveillance clearly identified rotavirus as a major cause of severe diarrhea, with a detection rate of 41% among children hospitalized for diarrhea in China, which is near the median level observed in the 9 countries of the region. The disease has a distinct seasonality, peaks from October to March each year, and occurs mostly in infants under 2 years of age. All children were infected with rotavirus in the first 5 years of life and this infection was responsible for an estimated 30,000 deaths each year, making it a major public health problem in China.

To further enhance surveillance efforts and promote vaccine R&D in China, China CDC and US CDC, in partnership with PATH and other organizations, convened a meeting in Beijing to discuss “The Future of Rotavirus Vaccines in China” on October 24-25, 2003. The event was a landmark since it was the first workshop on rotavirus and rotavirus vaccines to be held in China. The meeting was attended by 23 foreign experts including scientists from PATH, representatives of international manufacturers (GSK and Merck) involved in rotavirus vaccine development, 62 Chinese participants from the national and regional CDCs, MOH, SFDA, senior pediatricians, and representatives of 5 Chinese vaccine manufacturers. The goal of the meeting was to review rotavirus epidemiology and disease burden, and discuss the need for a rotavirus vaccine in China, and the status of 4 rotavirus vaccines development abroad and the Lanzhou Lamb Rotavirus vaccine (LLR), which was licensed for use in private market in China.

After successful 1st workshop in Beijing, China CDC and US CDC co-convened the 2nd and 3rd INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON ROTAVIRUS VACCINE IN CHINA in Beijing in July 2005 and in Kunming in December 2008, respectively. These workshops had open sessions on rotavirus and rotavirus vaccine, and a closed session with each manufacturer. Open sessions reviewed the epidemiology and disease burden of rotavirus globally, nationally, and regionally; rotavirus vaccine development: past, present and future; and regulatory and manufacturing issues for rotavirus vaccines. These workshops helped the R&D and application of rotavirus vaccines. Closed sessions helped facilitate discussion and exchange of ideas among international experts and representatives of the SFDA, China CDC and the Chinese immunization community on issues related to vaccine development, regulatory pathways, approaches to clinical trials, and strategies to get international support and technology transfer. The international community saw China’s development of safe and effective rotavirus vaccines as both a priority for public health in China and a step to making adequate supplies of inexpensive, safe and effective vaccines available for distribution to UNICEF, the international community, and the developing world.

Despite all the successful introduction into routine immunization in more than 80 countries of the two major rotavirus vaccines in many parts of the world over the last decade and the high burden of rotavirus disease in China and surrounding countries, Asia is lagging far behind in the licensure and introduction of rotavirus vaccines into routine immunization. Besides, as rotavirus vaccines are increasingly used in countries around the world, norovirus has become an important pathogen associated with acute diarrhea and hospitalization, as well as foodborne illness and large outbreaks. Therefore, it is timely to hold a conference focusing on both rotavirus and norovirus in China, which is now the 1st international workshop on gastroenteritis viruses in China.

This workshop stems from the International Workshop on Rotavirus Vaccine in China, and will be held September 14 - 15, 2017, at the Fenglin Campus, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. It is convened by Fudan University, China and US CDC, co-organized by Committee of Biological Medicine Products and Quality Research, Chinese Pharmaceutical Association, and Shanghai Society of Medical Virology, Shanghai Medical Association. This workshop will focus on the development of vaccines, and how to implement vaccines to control and prevent acute gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus and norovirus. The international experiences with introduction, post-licensure impact and safety will be shared. The latest advances on epidemiology, virology and vaccine R&D will be reviewed. Particularly, for rotavirus, issues in trials of new reassortant vaccines (including sample size calculation and intussusception), vaccine introduction, new vaccine approaches (what and how many G/P type should be included), as well as importance of potential contamination caused by replicable strains; and for norovirus, disease burden, persistence of immunity, cross-protection, variation & evolution, and vaccine R&D, will be discussed intensively.