Prospects for pneumococcal vaccination in African children

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19 Scopus citations


Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in both developed and undeveloped countries. Accurate disease burden estimates for developing countries and Africa in particular, where diagnostic facilities are less adequate and a disease surveillance system virtually non-existent, is difficult. However, from conservative estimates, the pneumococcus is probably responsible for at least 1 million of the 4 million deaths that occur from acute lower respiratory infections in children aged less than 5 years. The global burden of disease has been accentuated by the rising menace of multi-drug resistant strains, which defy geographic and racial borders. Thus, now more than ever before, there is an urgent need to identify and implement preventive measures to avert this problem. The currently licensed pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, comprises 23 capsular polysaccharides of the pneumococcus, many of which are poorly immunogenic in the very vulnerable age group of under-fives. A possible solution to the problem of poor immunogenicity is to use a protein/polysaccharide conjugate vaccine similar to that recently introduced successfully for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and using this approach, several workers have reported promising results from safety and immunogenicity studies. However, unlike Hib, the development of conjugate vaccine against pneumococcal disease is complicated by the existence of more serotypes than can be feasibly incorporated in a single conjugate vaccine formulation. Whilst this challenge has been taken on by some vaccine manufacturers, novel approaches such as the identification or construction of protective protein antigen, common to all clinically important strains are being explored. Novel application of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines in pregnancy for protection of disease in early infancy is an approach that has not been evaluated. For maximum impact, the ultimate vaccine formulation should be affordable and available to resource poor countries where the burden of disease is highest. Establishing disease surveillance systems in such countries now will greatly facilitate the introduction of the vaccines. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 25 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • B-cells
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Meningitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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