Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Vaccine success signals rethink in pneumonia care


Pneumonia is the single most common cause of death in under-fives, accounting for a fifth of childhood deaths worldwide.

But if childhood vaccination programmes manage to halve mortality from severe pneumonia, strategies to combat the remaining disease will require a complete re-think.

Writing in PLoS Medicine, J. Anthony G. Scott and Mike English say current strategies focus on two vaccine preventable pathogens — Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcus.

If the 50 per cent mortality reduction is achieved, the present classification of pneumonia would be obsolete, they say. The many other causes of pneumonia, such as the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, will need to be given more attention and vaccination campaigns may prove impractical or too expensive.

Distinguishing between pneumonia and asthma — on the rise in developing countries — will be important, as will consideration of the effect of tuberculosis and other risk factors, such as HIV infection, indoor air pollution and poor nutrition.

Better diagnostic tests will be required, as well as clinical trials at multiple sites to evaluate new treatments for the various causes of pneumonia.

The authors say this represents "at least a decade's work, yet the situation we anticipate will arrive in many developing countries before a decade is out."

Link to full article in PLoS Medicine

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.