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1.  Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1976-2014 
eLife  null;4:e09015.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has experienced the most outbreaks of Ebola virus disease since the virus' discovery in 1976. This article provides for the first time a description and a line list for all outbreaks in this country, comprising 996 cases. Compared to patients over 15 years old, the odds of dying were significantly lower in patients aged 5 to 15 and higher in children under five (with 100% mortality in those under 2 years old). The odds of dying increased by 11% per day that a patient was not hospitalised. Outbreaks with an initially high reproduction number, R (>3), were rapidly brought under control, whilst outbreaks with a lower initial R caused longer and generally larger outbreaks. These findings can inform the choice of target age groups for interventions and highlight the importance of both reducing the delay between symptom onset and hospitalisation and rapid national and international response.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09015.001
eLife digest
Ebola virus disease commonly causes symptoms such as high fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It may also cause muscle pain, headaches, and bleeding, and often leads to death.
There have been seven outbreaks of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1976. The DRC is the country that has had the most outbreaks of this disease in the world. The most recent outbreak in the DRC was in 2014; this was separate from the outbreak that started in West Africa in the same year. Rosello, Mossoko et al. have now compiled the data from all seven of the outbreaks in the DRC into a single dataset, which covers almost 1000 patients.
Analysing this data revealed that people between 25 and 64 years of age were most likely to be infected by the Ebola virus, possibly because most healthcare workers fall into this category. Age also affected how likely a patient was to die, with those aged under 5 and over 15 more likely to die than those aged between 5 and 15. Delaying going to hospital once symptoms had started, even by one day, also increased the likelihood of death.
Rosello, Mossoko et al. also examined the Ebola virus effective reproduction number, which indicates how many people, on average, an infected person passes the virus on to. Outbreaks that initially featured viruses with a reproduction number larger than three tended to be stemmed quickly. However, when the reproduction number was lower, national and international organisations were slower to respond to the signs of the outbreak, leading to outbreaks that lasted longer.
Further research is needed to understand why the likelihood of death is different for different age groups and to investigate the effect of the different routes of transmission of the virus on interventions such as vaccination.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09015.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.09015
PMCID: PMC4629279  PMID: 26525597
Ebola; Democratic Republic of the Congo; outbreaks; other
2.  Investigating the pertussis resurgence in England and Wales, and options for future control 
BMC Medicine  2016;14(1):121.
Background
In 2012 England and Wales experienced a resurgence of pertussis and an increase in infant deaths. This occurred 8 years after acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine replaced whole cell (wP) primary vaccine despite continued high coverage for the primary series and pre-school aP booster. We developed a mathematical model to describe pertussis transmission dynamics in England and Wales since the 1950s and used it to investigate the cause of the resurgence and the potential impact of additional vaccination strategies.
Methods
An age-structured, compartmental, deterministic model of the pertussis transmission dynamics was fitted to 60 continuous years of age-stratified pertussis notification data in England and Wales. The model incorporated vaccine-induced and natural immunity and differentiated between vaccine-induced protection against clinical disease and infection.
Results
The degree of protection of wP vaccine against infection was estimated to be higher than that of aP vaccine. Furthermore, the duration of protection for natural and wP-induced immunity was likely to be at least 15 years, but for aP vaccine it could be as low as 5 years. Model results indicated that the likely cause of the resurgence was the replacement of wP by less efficacious aP vaccine and that an elevated level of pertussis would continue. The collapse in wP vaccine coverage in the 1970s and resultant outbreaks in the late 1970s and early 1980s could not explain the resurgence. Addition of an adolescent or toddler booster was predicted to have little impact on the disease in infants.
Conclusions
Our findings support the recent recommendation by the World Health Organisation that countries currently using wP vaccine for primary immunisation should not change to aP vaccine unless additional strategies to control infant disease such as maternal immunisation can be assured. Improved pertussis vaccines that provide better protection against infection are needed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0665-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0665-8
PMCID: PMC5007864  PMID: 27580649
Pertussis; Vaccine; Resurgence; Mathematical model; Transmission; Intervention
3.  Cost-Effectiveness of Vaccinating Immunocompetent ≥65 Year Olds with the 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in England 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0149540.
Background
Recently a large clinical trial showed that the use of 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) among immunocompetent individuals aged 65 years and over was safe and efficacious. The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of vaccinating immunocompetent 65 year olds with PCV13 vaccine in England. England is a country with universal childhood pneumococcal conjugate vaccination programme in place (7-valent (PCV7) since 2006 and PCV13 since 2010), as well as a 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPV23) vaccination programme targeting clinical risk-groups and those ≥65 years.
Method
A static cohort cost-effectiveness model was developed to follow a cohort of 65 year olds until death, which will be vaccinated in the autumn of 2016 with PCV13. Sensitivity analysis was performed to test the robustness of the results.
Results
The childhood vaccination programme with PCV7 has induced herd protection among older unvaccinated age groups, with a resultant low residual disease burden caused by PCV7 vaccine types. We show similar herd protection effects for the 6 additional serotypes included in PCV13, and project a new low post-introduction equilibrium of vaccine-type disease in 2018/19. Applying these incidence projections for both invasive disease and community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), and using recent measures of vaccine efficacy against these endpoints for ≥65 year olds, we estimate that vaccination of a cohort of immunocompetent 65 year olds with PCV13 would directly prevent 26 cases of IPD, 69 cases of CAP and 15 deaths. The associated cost-effectiveness ratio is £257,771 per QALY gained (using list price of £49.10 per dose and £7.51 administration costs) and is therefore considered not cost-effective. To obtain a cost-effective programme the price per dose would need to be negative. The results were sensitive to disease incidence, waning vaccine protection and case fatality rate; despite this, the overall conclusion was robust.
Conclusions
Vaccinating immunocompetent individuals aged ≥65 years with PCV13 is efficacious. However the absolute incidence of vaccine-type disease will likely become very low due to wider benefits of the childhood PCV13 vaccination programme, such that a specific PCV13 vaccination programme targeting the immunocompetent elderly would not be cost-effective.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149540
PMCID: PMC4767406  PMID: 26914907
4.  Seasonal influenza vaccination delivery through community pharmacists in England: evaluation of the London pilot 
BMJ Open  2016;6(2):e009739.
Objective
To evaluate the effectiveness and cost of the pan-London pharmacy initiative, a programme that allows administration of seasonal influenza vaccination to eligible patients at pharmacies.
Design
We analysed 2013–2015 data on vaccination uptake in pharmacies via the Sonar reporting system, and the total vaccination uptake via 2011–2015 ImmForm general practitioner (GP) reporting system data. We conducted an online survey of London pharmacists who participate in the programme to assess time use data, vaccine choice, investment costs and opinions about the programme. We conducted an online survey of London GPs to assess vaccine choice of vaccine and opinions about the pharmacy vaccine delivery programme.
Setting
All London boroughs.
Participants
London-based GPs, and pharmacies that currently offer seasonal flu vaccination.
Interventions
Not applicable.
Main outcome measures
Comparison of annual vaccine uptake in London across risk groups from years before pharmacy vaccination introduction to after pharmacy vaccination introduction. Completeness of vaccine uptake reporting data. Cost to the National Health Service (NHS) of flu vaccine delivery at pharmacies with that at GPs. Cost to pharmacists of flu delivery. Opinions of pharmacists and GPs regarding the flu vaccine pharmacy initiative.
Results
No significant change in the uptake of seasonal vaccination in any of the risk groups as a result of the pharmacy initiative. While on average a pharmacy-administered flu vaccine dose costs the NHS up to £2.35 less than a dose administered at a GP, a comparison of the 2 recording systems suggests there is substantial loss of data.
Conclusions
Flu vaccine delivery through pharmacies shows potential for improving convenience for vaccine recipients. However, there is no evidence that vaccination uptake increases and the use of 2 separate recording systems leads to time-consuming data entry and missing vaccine record data.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009739
PMCID: PMC4762088  PMID: 26883237
PUBLIC HEALTH
5.  The Potential for Reducing the Number of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Doses While Sustaining Herd Immunity in High-Income Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(6):e1001839.
Stefan Flasche and colleagues consider whether the number of PCV doses in the infant schedule could be reduced without compromising its public health benefit in high-income settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001839
PMCID: PMC4461163  PMID: 26057994
6.  The Burden of Disease and Health Care Use among Pertussis Cases in School Aged Children and Adults in England and Wales; A Patient Survey 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111807.
Background
In 2011–2012 a large pertussis outbreak occurred in England. This provided an opportunity to estimate the disease burden in those aged 5 years and over. As pertussis is likely to be under reported both laboratory-confirmed and non-confirmed cases were included.
Methods
Laboratory-confirmed cases of pertussis, as well as their coughing but non-confirmed household members, were sent a questionnaire that collected information on clinical features and quality of life for the most severe day of disease and the day the patient filled in the questionnaire. The EuroQol-5 dimension questionnaire (EQ-5D) was used to evaluate quality of life. The duration of symptoms was obtained by contacting the patient every two weeks until symptoms stopped.
Results
Data for 535 (out of 1262) laboratory confirmed pertussis patients and 44 (out of 140) coughing household contacts was available for analysis. On the most severe day, 56% of laboratory-confirmed cases reported they had 20+ more paroxysms, 58% reported they had a severe cough and 46% reported disruption of sleep for more than 4 hours. For non-confirmed coughing household contacts there were a similar number of coughing spells per day at the height, though the cough was reported to be less severe and to cause less sleep disruption. The main clinical symptoms on the worst day for both were shortness of breath, tiredness, sore ribs and vomiting. The duration of symptoms for both patient groups was around 160 days (162 and 168 days). Under base case assumptions the overall loss of quality of life was 0.097 QALY (0.089–0.106) for confirmed pertussis cases and 0.0365 QALY (0.023–0.054) for coughing household contacts.
Conclusion
Pertussis is a serious disease in those aged 5 years and over, causing disruption of sleep and daily activities over long period of time. The burden of illness due to undiagnosed pertussis is also considerable.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111807
PMCID: PMC4244040  PMID: 25423321
7.  The Effect of Measles on Health-Related Quality of Life: A Patient-Based Survey 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e105153.
Background
Measles is a highly contagious and potentially fatal illness preventable through vaccination. Outbreaks in the UK and many other European countries have been increasing over recent years, with over 3,207 laboratory-confirmed cases reported by Public Health England from January 2012 to the end of June 2013. To aid rational decision making regarding measles control versus other use of healthcare resources, it is important to measure the severity of measles in units that are comparable to other diseases. The standard metric for this in the UK is the quality-adjust life year (QALY). To our knowledge, the impact of measles on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in terms of QALYs has not been quantified.
Methods and Findings
Individuals with confirmed measles were sent questionnaires requesting information on the short-term impact of the illness on their HRQoL using the EuroQol EQ-5D-3L questionnaire. HRQoL was reported for the day the questionnaire was received, the worst day of infection and at follow-up three weeks later. 507 questionnaires were sent to individuals with confirmed measles with 203 returned (40%). The majority of respondents were not vaccinated. The mean time off work or school was 9.6 days. The mean duration of perceived illness was 13.8 days. The mean number of QALYs lost was 0.019 (equivalent to 6.9 days). The overall burden of disease in terms of QALYs lost in England based on the total number of confirmed cases in the twelve month period from 1st June 2012 was estimated to be 44.2 QALYs.
Conclusion
The short-term impact of measles infection on HRQoL is substantial, both at the level of the individual patient and in terms of the overall disease burden. This is the first attempt to quantify QALY-loss due to measles at a population level, and provides important parameters to guide future intervention and control measures.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105153
PMCID: PMC4159135  PMID: 25202905
8.  Validity of a reported history of chickenpox in targeting varicella vaccination at susceptible adolescents in England☆ 
Vaccine  2014;32(10):1213-1217.
Highlights
•Chickenpox history may enable cost-effective vaccination of susceptible individuals.•We tested the validity of reported chickenpox history in adolescents.•Vaccine would be wasted in most adolescents with a negative or uncertain history.•6–9% of those with a positive chickenpox history would remain susceptible.•These data are needed to inform cost-effectiveness of proposed vaccine programmes.
Introduction
In the UK, primary varicella is usually a mild infection in children, but can cause serious illness in susceptible pregnant women and adults. The UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is considering an adolescent varicella vaccination programme. Cost-effectiveness depends upon identifying susceptibles and minimising vaccine wastage, and chickenpox history is one method to screen for eligibility. To inform this approach, we estimated the proportion of adolescents with varicella antibodies by reported chickenpox history.
Methods
Recruitment occurred through secondary schools in England from February to September 2012. Parents were asked about their child's history of chickenpox, explicitly setting the context in terms of the implications for vaccination. 247 adolescents, whose parents reported positive (120), negative (77) or uncertain (50) chickenpox history provided oral fluid for varicella zoster virus-specific immunoglobulin-G (VZV-IgG) testing.
Results
109 (90.8% [85.6–96.0%]) adolescents with a positive chickenpox history, 52 (67.5% [57.0–78.1%]) with a negative history and 42 (84.0% [73.7–94.3%]) with an uncertain history had VZV-IgG suggesting prior infection. Combining negative and uncertain histories, 74% had VZV-IgG (best-case). When discounting low total-IgG samples and counting equivocals as positive (worst-case), 84% had VZV-IgG. We also modelled outcomes by varying the negative predictive value (NPV) for the antibody assay, and found 74–87% under the best-case and 84–92% under the worst-case scenario would receive vaccine unnecessarily as NPV falls to 50%.
Conclusion
Reported chickenpox history discriminates between varicella immunity and susceptibility in adolescents, but significant vaccine wastage would occur if this approach alone were used to determine vaccine eligibility. A small but important proportion of those with positive chickenpox history would remain susceptible. These data are needed to determine whether reported history, with or without oral fluid testing in those with negative and uncertain history, is sufficiently discriminatory to underpin a cost-effective adolescent varicella vaccination programme.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.06.098
PMCID: PMC3969712  PMID: 23871823
Varicella; Chickenpox; Reported history; Validity; Adolescent; Vaccination programme
9.  The Social Life of Infants in the Context of Infectious Disease Transmission; Social Contacts and Mixing Patterns of the Very Young 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76180.
Insight into how humans interact helps further understanding of the transmission of infectious diseases. For diseases such as pertussis, infants are at particular risk for severe outcomes. To understand the contact pattern of infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated, we sent contact diaries to a representative sample of 1000 mothers in the United Kingdom. We received 115 responses with a total of 758 recorded contacts. The average number of daily contacts for an infant was 6.68 overall and 5.7 for those aged ≤10 weeks. Of the latter, 2.1 (37%) contacts were with non-household members and were >15 minutes duration, suggesting that a cocooning programme may miss a substantial proportion of exposures leading to disease transmission. The least contact was between adolescents and infants. Thus the impact of adolescent (pertussis) vaccination on infants would likely be limited, unless it reduces transmission to other age groups whose contact with infants is greater.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076180
PMCID: PMC3797797  PMID: 24146835
11.  A Cost Effectiveness and Capacity Analysis for the Introduction of Universal Rotavirus Vaccination in Kenya: Comparison between Rotarix and RotaTeq Vaccines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47511.
Background
Diarrhoea is an important cause of death in the developing world, and rotavirus is the single most important cause of diarrhoea associated mortality. Two vaccines (Rotarix and RotaTeq) are available to prevent rotavirus disease. This analysis was undertaken to aid the decision in Kenya as to which vaccine to choose when introducing rotavirus vaccination.
Methods
Cost-effectiveness modelling, using national and sentinel surveillance data, and an impact assessment on the cold chain.
Results
The median estimated incidence of rotavirus disease in Kenya was 3015 outpatient visits, 279 hospitalisations and 65 deaths per 100,000 children under five years of age per year. Cumulated over the first five years of life vaccination was predicted to prevent 34% of the outpatient visits, 31% of the hospitalizations and 42% of the deaths. The estimated prevented costs accumulated over five years totalled US$1,782,761 (direct and indirect costs) with an associated 48,585 DALYs. From a societal perspective Rotarix had a cost-effectiveness ratio of US$142 per DALY (US$5 for the full course of two doses) and RotaTeq US$288 per DALY ($10.5 for the full course of three doses). RotaTeq will have a bigger impact on the cold chain compared to Rotarix.
Conclusion
Vaccination against rotavirus disease is cost-effective for Kenya irrespective of the vaccine. Of the two vaccines Rotarix was the preferred choice due to a better cost-effectiveness ratio, the presence of a vaccine vial monitor, the requirement of fewer doses and less storage space, and proven thermo-stability.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047511
PMCID: PMC3480384  PMID: 23115650
12.  Vaccination of risk groups in England using the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: economic analysis 
The BMJ  2012;345:e6879.
Objective To estimate the cost effectiveness of vaccinating people with high risk conditions against invasive pneumococcal disease using the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
Design Economic evaluation using a cohort model from the perspective of healthcare providers.
Setting England.
Participants People aged 2 years and older at increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease due to chronic kidney disease; splenic dysfunction; HIV infection; a compromised immune system; chronic heart, liver, or respiratory disease; or diabetes.
Main outcome measures Costs, gains in life years and quality adjusted life years (QALYs), and incremental cost effectiveness ratios.
Results Increasing indirect protection resulting from the vaccination programme of infants using the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine means that the burden of disease preventable by targeting high risk groups will diminish in time. Under base case assumptions—that is, no overall impact on non bacteraemic pneumonia in high risk groups and assuming the high risk vaccination programme would be launched two to three years after the infant programme—the incremental cost effectiveness ratio was estimated to be more than £30 000 (€37 216; $48 210) per QALY gained for most risk groups. If, however, the vaccine does not offer protection against non-bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia or the vaccine was introduced concomitantly with the infant 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination programme then vaccinating high risk people would (more) likely be cost effective. Sensitivity analyses showed that the cost effectiveness was particularly sensitive to assumed herd benefits and vaccine efficacy estimates.
Conclusion Under base case assumptions it is unlikely that a pneumococcal vaccination programme aimed at risk groups could be considered cost effective. Uncertainty could be substantially reduced by establishing the effectiveness of the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine against non-bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia, particularly in at risk groups.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e6879
PMCID: PMC3482156  PMID: 23103369
13.  Effect of Serotype on Focus and Mortality of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease: Coverage of Different Vaccines and Insight into Non-Vaccine Serotypes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39150.
Background
Differences in pathogenicity between pneumococcal serotypes are important when assessing the potential benefit of different valency vaccines. We investigated the effect of serotype on clinical presentation, outcome, and quality of life lost from invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in the context of the 7, 10, and 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV7, PCV10, PCV13).
Method
Serotyped IPD cases in England were linked to the national dataset of hospital admissions for April 2002 to March 2011. Based on patients’ diagnostic codes and vital status at the end of the admission, disease focus (meningitis, empyema, sepsis, or respiratory disease) and case fatality rates by serotype and age group (5, 5–64, and 65 years and over) were obtained. Using these data the quality adjusted life years (QALY) lost from the IPD remaining when use of PCV7 stopped in 2010 was estimated for the serotypes covered by higher valency vaccines.
Results
The linked dataset contained 23,688 cases with information on diagnosis, mortality, and serotype. There were significant differences between serotypes in the propensity to cause meningitis, death, and QALY loss in each of the investigated age groups. As a result, vaccines’ coverage of disease burden differed by endpoint. For example, in children under 5 years in 2009/10, PCV10 covered 39% of meningitis, 19% of deaths and 28% of the QALY loss of attributable to IPD, whereas the respective percentages for PCV13 were 65%, 67%, and 66%. The highest QALY loss per serotype in this age group was for 6A. Non-PCV serotypes causing the highest QALY loss were 22F and 33F in <5 year olds and 31 in older individuals.
Conclusion
Marked differences exist between serotypes in clinical presentation and outcome, and these should be considered when evaluating the potential impact of higher valency vaccines on overall disease burden and associated QALY loss.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039150
PMCID: PMC3398022  PMID: 22815698
15.  Effect of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccination on Serotype-Specific Carriage and Invasive Disease in England: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001017.
A cross sectional study by Stefan Flasche and coworkers document the serotype replacement of Streptococcus pneumoniae that has occurred in England since the introduction of PCV7 vaccination.
Background
We investigated the effect of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) programme in England on serotype-specific carriage and invasive disease to help understand its role in serotype replacement and predict the impact of higher valency vaccines.
Methods and Findings
Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from children <5 y old and family members (n = 400) 2 y after introduction of PCV7 into routine immunization programs. Proportions carrying Streptococcus pneumoniae and serotype distribution among carried isolates were compared with a similar population prior to PCV7 introduction. Serotype-specific case∶carrier ratios (CCRs) were estimated using national data on invasive disease. In vaccinated children and their contacts vaccine-type (VT) carriage decreased, but was offset by an increase in non-VT carriage, with no significant overall change in carriage prevalence, odds ratio 1.06 (95% confidence interval 0.76–1.49). The lower CCRs of the replacing serotypes resulted in a net reduction in invasive disease in children. The additional serotypes covered by higher valency vaccines had low carriage but high disease prevalence. Serotype 11C emerged as predominant in carriage but caused no invasive disease whereas 8, 12F, and 22F emerged in disease but had very low carriage prevalence.
Conclusion
Because the additional serotypes included in PCV10/13 have high CCRs but low carriage prevalence, vaccinating against them is likely to significantly reduce invasive disease with less risk of serotype replacement. However, a few serotypes with high CCRs could mitigate the benefits of higher valency vaccines. Assessment of the effect of PCV on carriage as well as invasive disease should be part of enhanced surveillance activities for PCVs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Pneumococcal diseases—major causes of illness and death in children and adults worldwide—are caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacterium that often colonizes the nasopharynx (the area of the throat behind the nose). Carriage of S. pneumoniae bacteria does not necessarily cause disease. However, these bacteria can cause local, noninvasive diseases such as ear infections and sinusitis and, more rarely, they can spread into the lungs, the bloodstream, or the covering of the brain, where they cause pneumonia, septicemia, and meningitis, respectively. Although these invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPDs) can be successfully treated if administered early, they can be fatal. Consequently, it is better to protect people against IPDs through vaccination than risk infection. Vaccination primes the immune system to recognize and attack disease-causing organisms (pathogens) rapidly and effectively by exposing it to weakened or dead pathogens or to pathogen molecules (antigens) that it recognizes as foreign.
Why Was This Study Done?
There are more than 90 S. pneumoniae variants or “serotypes” characterized by different polysaccharide (complex sugar) coats, which trigger the immune response against S. pneumoniae and determine each serotype's propensity to cause IPD. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV7 contains polysaccharides (linked to a protein carrier) from the seven serotypes mainly responsible for IPD in the US in 2000 when routine childhood PCV7 vaccination was introduced in that country. PCV7 prevents both IPD caused by the serotypes it contains and carriage of these serotypes, which means that, after vaccination, previously uncommon, nonvaccine serotypes can colonize the nasopharynx. If these serotypes have a high invasiveness potential, then “serotype replacement” could reduce the benefits of vaccination. In this cross-sectional study (a study that investigates the relationship between a disease and an intervention in a population at one time point), the researchers investigate the effect of the UK PCV7 vaccination program (which began in 2006) on serotype-specific carriage and IPD in England to understand the role of PCV7 in serotype replacement and to predict the likely impact of vaccines containing additional serotypes (higher valency vaccines).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined nasopharyngeal swabs taken from PCV7-vaccinated children and their families for S. pneumoniae, determined the serotype of any bacteria they found, and compared the proportion of people carrying S. pneumoniae (carrier prevalence) and the distribution of serotypes in this study population and in a similar population that was studied in 2000/2001, before the PCV vaccination program began. Overall, there was no statistically significant change in carrier prevalence, but carriage of vaccine serotypes decreased in vaccinated children and their contacts whereas carriage of nonvaccine serotypes increased. The serotype-specific case-to-carrier ratios (CCRs; a measure of serotype invasiveness that was estimated using national IPD data) of the replacing serotypes were generally lower than those of the original serotypes, which resulted in a net reduction in IPD in children. Moreover, before PCV7 vaccination began, PCV7-included serotypes were responsible for similar proportions of pneumococcal carriage and disease; afterwards, the additional serotypes present in the higher valency vaccines PVC10 and PVC13 were responsible for a higher proportion of disease than carriage. Finally, three serotypes not present in the higher valency vaccines with outstandingly high CCRs (high invasiveness potential) are identified.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings document the serotype replacement of S. pneumoniae that has occurred in England since the introduction of PCV7 vaccination and highlight the importance of assessing the effects of pneumococcal vaccines on carriage as well as on IPDs. Because the additional serotypes included in PCV10 and PCV13 have high CCRs but low carriage prevalence and because most of the potential replacement serotypes have low CCRs, these findings suggest that the introduction of higher valency vaccines should further reduce the occurrence of invasive disease with limited risk of additional serotype replacement. However, the emergence of a few serotypes that have high CCRs but are not included in PCV10 and PCV13 might mitigate the benefits of higher valency vaccines. In other words, although the recent introduction of PCV13 into UK vaccination schedules is likely to have an incremental benefit on the reduction of IPD compared to PCV7, this benefit might be offset by increases in the carriage of some high CCR serotypes. These serotypes should be considered for inclusion in future vaccines.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001017.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal vaccination
The US National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has a fact sheet on pneumococcal diseases
The UK Health Protection Agency provides information on pneumococcal disease and on pneumococcal vaccines
The World Health Organization also provides information on pneumococcal vaccines
MedlinePlus has links to further information about pneumococcal infections (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001017
PMCID: PMC3071372  PMID: 21483718
16.  The Impact of Pandemic Influenza H1N1 on Health-Related Quality of Life: A Prospective Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17030.
Background
While the H1N1v influenza pandemic in 2009 was clinically mild, with a low case-fatality rate, the overall disease burden measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALY) lost has not been estimated. Such a measure would allow comparison with other diseases and assessment of the cost-effectiveness of pandemic control measures.
Methods and Findings
Cases of H1N1v confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and PCR negative cases with similar influenza-like illness (ILI controls) in 7 regions of England were sent two questionnaires, one within a week of symptom onset and one two weeks later, requesting information on duration of illness, work loss and antiviral use together with EQ-5D questionnaires. Results were compared with those for seasonal influenza from a systematic literature review. A total QALY loss for the 2009 pandemic in England was calculated based on the estimated total clinical cases and reported deaths. A total of 655 questionnaires were sent and 296 (45%) returned. Symptoms and average illness duration were similar between confirmed cases and ILI controls (8.8 days and 8.7 days respectively). Days off work were greater for cases than ILI controls (7.3 and 4.9 days respectively, p = 0.003). The quality-adjusted life days lost was 2.92 for confirmed cases and 2.74 for ILI controls, with a reduction in QALY loss after prompt use of antivirals in confirmed cases. The overall QALY loss in the pandemic was estimated at 28,126 QALYs (22,267 discounted) of which 40% was due to deaths (24% with discounting).
Conclusion
Given the global public health significance of influenza, it is remarkable that no previous prospective study of the QALY loss of influenza using standardised and well validated methods has been performed. Although the QALY loss was minor for individual patients, the estimated total burden of influenza over the pandemic was substantial when compared to other infectious diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017030
PMCID: PMC3047534  PMID: 21399678
17.  Modelling the impact of local reactive school closures on critical care provision during an influenza pandemic 
Despite the fact that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza strain was less severe than had been feared, both seasonal epidemics of influenza-like-illness and future influenza pandemics have the potential to place a serious burden on health services. The closure of schools has been postulated as a means of reducing transmission between children and hence reducing the number of cases at the peak of an epidemic; this is supported by the marked reduction in cases during school holidays observed across the world during the 2009 pandemic. However, a national policy of long-duration school closures could have severe economic costs. Reactive short-duration closure of schools in regions where health services are close to capacity offers a potential compromise, but it is unclear over what spatial scale and time frame closures would need to be made to be effective. Here, using detailed geographical information for England, we assess how localized school closures could alleviate the burden on hospital intensive care units (ICUs) that are reaching capacity. We show that, for a range of epidemiologically plausible assumptions, considerable local coordination of school closures is needed to achieve a substantial reduction in the number of hospitals where capacity is exceeded at the peak of the epidemic. The heterogeneity in demand per hospital ICU bed means that even widespread school closures are unlikely to have an impact on whether demand will exceed capacity for many hospitals. These results support the UK decision not to use localized school closures as a control mechanism, but have far wider international public-health implications. The spatial heterogeneities in both population density and hospital capacity that give rise to our results exist in many developed countries, while our model assumptions are sufficiently general to cover a wide range of pathogens. This leads us to believe that when a pandemic has severe implications for ICU capacity, only widespread school closures (with their associated costs and organizational challenges) are sufficient to mitigate the burden on the worst-affected hospitals.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2688
PMCID: PMC3145187  PMID: 21288945
influenza; pandemic; schools; modelling; intensive care unit; hospitals
18.  Assessing the potential effects and cost-effectiveness of programmatic herpes zoster vaccination of elderly in the Netherlands 
Background
Herpes zoster (HZ) is a painful disease affecting a considerable part of the elderly. Programmatic HZ vaccination of elderly people may considerably reduce HZ morbidity and its related costs, but the extent of these effects is unknown. In this article, the potential effects and cost-effectiveness of programmatic HZ vaccination of elderly in the Netherlands have been assessed according to a framework that was developed to support evidence-based decision making regarding inclusion of new vaccines in the Dutch National Immunization Program.
Methods
An analytical framework was used combining a checklist, which structured relevant data on the vaccine, pathogen and disease, and a cost-effectiveness analysis. The cost-effectiveness analysis was performed from a societal perspective, using a Markov-cohort-model. Simultaneous vaccination with influenza was assumed.
Results
Due to the combination of waning immunity after vaccination and a reduced efficacy of vaccination at high ages, the most optimal cost-effectiveness ratio (€21716 per QALY) for HZ vaccination in the Netherlands was found for 70-year olds. This estimated ratio is just above the socially accepted threshold in the Netherlands of €20000 per QALY. If additional reduction of postherpetic neuralgia was included, the cost-effectiveness ratio improved (~€10000 per QALY) but uncertainty for this scenario is high.
Conclusions
Vaccination against HZ at the age of 70 years seems marginally cost-effective in the Netherlands. Due to limited vaccine efficacy a considerable part of the disease burden caused by HZ will remain, even with optimal acceptance of programmatic vaccination.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-237
PMCID: PMC2928772  PMID: 20707884
20.  Can Reactive School Closures help critical care provision during the current influenza pandemic? 
PLoS Currents  2009;1:RRN1119.
Although the current H1N1 influenza strain is now considered to be relatively mild, it still has the potential to place a serious burden on health services. The closure of schools has been postulated as a means of reducing transmission between children and hence reducing the number of cases at the peak of an epidemic; however if instigated nationally such a policy has severe economic costs. Reactive short-duration closure of schools in regions where health services are close to capacity offers a potential compromise, but it is unclear over what spatial scale and timeframe closures would need to be made to have a substantial impact. Here, using detailed geographic information for England, we assess how localized school closures could alleviate the burden on hospital intensive care units (ICUs) that are reaching capacity. We show that, for a range of epidemiologically plausible assumptions, considerable local coordination of school closures is needed to achieve a substantial reduction in the number of hospitals that are over capacity at the epidemic peak. The heterogeneity in demand per hospital means that even widespread school closures are unlikely to impact on whether demand will exceed capacity for many hospital ICUs. These results re-enforce the UK policy of not utilising school closures as a control mechanism, but have far wider international public-health implications. The spatial heterogeneities in both population density and hospital capacity that give rise to our results are present in many Northern Hemisphere countries where a second wave of influenza is predicted this autumn and winter. This leads us to believe that even widespread reactive school closures are unlikely to eliminate problems of demand exceeding local capacity in many regions.
doi:10.1371/currents.RRN1119
PMCID: PMC2766491  PMID: 20029657
21.  Vaccination of risk groups in England using the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: economic analysis 
Objective To estimate the cost effectiveness of vaccinating people with high risk conditions against invasive pneumococcal disease using the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
Design Economic evaluation using a cohort model from the perspective of healthcare providers.
Setting England.
Participants People aged 2 years and older at increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease due to chronic kidney disease; splenic dysfunction; HIV infection; a compromised immune system; chronic heart, liver, or respiratory disease; or diabetes.
Main outcome measures Costs, gains in life years and quality adjusted life years (QALYs), and incremental cost effectiveness ratios.
Results Increasing indirect protection resulting from the vaccination programme of infants using the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine means that the burden of disease preventable by targeting high risk groups will diminish in time. Under base case assumptions—that is, no overall impact on non bacteraemic pneumonia in high risk groups and assuming the high risk vaccination programme would be launched two to three years after the infant programme—the incremental cost effectiveness ratio was estimated to be more than £30 000 (€37 216; $48 210) per QALY gained for most risk groups. If, however, the vaccine does not offer protection against non-bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia or the vaccine was introduced concomitantly with the infant 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination programme then vaccinating high risk people would (more) likely be cost effective. Sensitivity analyses showed that the cost effectiveness was particularly sensitive to assumed herd benefits and vaccine efficacy estimates.
Conclusion Under base case assumptions it is unlikely that a pneumococcal vaccination programme aimed at risk groups could be considered cost effective. Uncertainty could be substantially reduced by establishing the effectiveness of the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine against non-bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia, particularly in at risk groups.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e6879
PMCID: PMC3482156  PMID: 23103369

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