A new study of a vaccine used against a pneumonia-causing bacteria found that cases of severe pneumonia decreased by 35% among those children who had received the vaccine.
The study—which was a collaborative effort between the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the University of Melbourne—assessed the impact the vaccine had in children in Laos, a country frequently plagued by childhood cases of pneumonia, according to a release issued about the findings.1
Fiona Russell, a professor at MCRI, said investigators were able to create a new method using data collected from a Laos hospital to determine that the vaccine had been effective in the most severe forms of the disease.1
The country was the first in Southeast Asia to begin using the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) as part of its national immunization program.
“Vaccinating children protects the whole community by reducing the spread of pneumococcus because little children who commonly carry pneumococcus in the back of their nose are mostly responsible for the spread of these bacteria,” Russell said according to the release.1
The research team took pneumococcus samples from 2 groups of children: those who were healthy and those with pneumonia. Researchers found that most children with pneumococcus in their nose did not have any symptoms of pneumonia. However, they noted that there was a small group of children with who had the bacteria spread to their lungs or bloodstream.1
“By discovering that the bacteria is commonly carried at the back of the nose (both in healthy children and children with pneumonia), our study highlights that it is likely a significant contributor to severe infections in Laos,” she said.1
Russell declined to discuss further details of the study with Drug Topics until a paper on the findings can be published.
Pneumonia can be a serious—sometimes fatal—acute respiratory infection requiring hospitalization or oxygen for those with the most severe cases. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of all deaths of children younger than 5 years of age are attributed to pneumonia. In 2017, pneumonia killed 808,694 children.2
Russell said researchers are also using the new method developed to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness on the most severe cases in Papua New Guinea and Mongolia and are optimistic about the results, according to the release.1
1. Vaccine reduces likelihood of severe pneumonia [news release]. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s website. https://www.mcri.edu.au/news/vaccine-reduces-likelihood-severe-pneumonia.
2. World Health Organization. Pneumonia [Fact sheet]. WHO’s website. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/pneumonia