Hope Johnson and colleagues calculate the global and regional burden of serotype-specific pneumococcal disease in children under the age of five.
Approximately 800,000 children die each year due to pneumococcal disease and >90% of these deaths occur in developing countries where few children have access to life-saving serotype-based vaccines. Understanding the serotype epidemiology of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) among children is necessary for vaccine development and introduction policies. The aim of this study was to systematically estimate the global and regional distributions of serotypes causing IPD in children <5 years of age.
Methods and Findings
We systematically reviewed studies with IPD serotype data among children <5 years of age from the published literature and unpublished data provided by researchers. Studies conducted prior to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) introduction, from 1980 to 2007, with ≥12 months of surveillance, and reporting ≥20 serotyped isolates were included. Serotype-specific proportions were pooled in a random effects meta-analysis and combined with PD incidence and mortality estimates to infer global and regional serotype-specific PD burden. Of 1,292, studies reviewed, 169 were included comprising 60,090 isolates from 70 countries. Globally and regionally, six to 11 serotypes accounted for ≥70% of IPD. Seven serotypes (1, 5, 6A, 6B, 14, 19F, 23F) were the most common globally; and based on year 2000 incidence and mortality estimates these seven serotypes accounted for >300,000 deaths in Africa and 200,000 deaths in Asia. Serotypes included in both the 10- and 13-valent PCVs accounted for 10 million cases and 600,000 deaths worldwide.
A limited number of serotypes cause most IPD worldwide. The serotypes included in existing PCV formulations account for 49%–88% of deaths in Africa and Asia where PD morbidity and mortality are the highest, but few children have access to these life-saving vaccines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Despite all the international attention on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4—to reduce deaths in children under 5 years by two thirds by 2015—pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis together comprise >25% of the 10 million deaths occurring annually in children <5 years of age. Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading bacterial cause of these diseases and the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 800,000 children die each year of invasive pneumococcal disease. Three pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are currently available and protect against the serotypes most commonly causing invasive pneumococcal disease in young children in North America. However, few countries with the highest burden of invasive pneumococcal disease have introduced the vaccines into their national immunization programs. Not only is it important to introduce a vaccine, but also to use a vaccine covering the appropriate serotypes prevalent in a susceptible region.
Why Was This Study Done?
Over the past few years, data on serotyping in many high burden countries has become available. The authors conducted this study (a systematic review and meta-analysis) to quantify the serotypes causing invasive pneumococcal disease in children <5 years of age in order to estimate the global and regional serotype distribution and serotype-specific disease burden. This information can then be used to estimate the potential public health impact of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine formulations and help to inform decision making for both pneumococcal vaccine development and the introduction of a vaccine into a specific region.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Using published studies and unpublished data provided by researchers, the researchers systematically reviewed studies that included data on invasive pneumococcal disease serotype among children <5 years of age. The researchers then used statistical tools to pool the serotype-specific proportions and combined this information with pneumococcal disease incidence and mortality estimates to calculate the global and regional burden of serotype-specific pneumococcal disease.
The researchers reviewed 1,292 studies and included 169 suitable studies in their analysis, which included information on 60,090 isolates from 70 countries. The researchers produced regional estimates of the serotypes that caused invasive pneumococcal disease among under five-year-olds in different regions: six serotypes were identified as causing most invasive pneumococcal disease in North America; nine serotypes were identified in Africa; and 11 serotypes were identified in Asia. The researchers also found that seven serotypes (1, 5, 6A, 6B, 14, 19F, and 23F) were the most common globally and that these seven serotypes accounted for 58%–66% of invasive pneumococcal disease in every region. On the basis of incidence and mortality estimates of invasive pneumococcal disease for the year 2000 (before pneumococcal conjugate vaccines were introduced), the researchers found that these serotypes represented >300,000 deaths in Africa and 200,000 deaths in Asia.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that a limited number of serotypes cause most invasive pneumococcal disease worldwide. This finding contradicts the conventional supposition that the most common serotypes causing invasive pneumococcal disease vary greatly across geographic regions. Crucially, the findings of this study also show that the serotypes currently included in existing pneumococcal conjugate formulations account for 49%–74% of deaths in Africa and Asia where the morbidity and mortality of pneumococcal disease are the highest and where most children do not have access to current pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. Although the authors do not provide country-level estimates of serotype distribution, country-specific vaccine impact estimates can be made using country-level pneumococcal disease burden numbers combined with the regional serotype estimates provided in this study. This means that national policy makers can assess the potential impact of serotypes included in different conjugate vaccines, which should contribute to their decision-making process. In addition, manufacturers can now work from a consensus set of serotype coverage estimates to plan and design future serotype-based vaccine formulations to target the pneumococcal disease burden.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000348
The World Health Organization provides information about pneumococcus
The PneumoACTION provides information about pneumonia and pneumococcal disease
The Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation has information on all aspects of vaccination and immunization
The US Centers for Disease Control provides information about pneumococcal conjugate vaccination
The Word Pneumonia Day coalition provides information about pneumonia