Impact of the introduction of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on pneumonia

The Gambia Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the MRC Unit The Gambia have worked together to determine the impact of the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) on pneumonia. The report this week in The Lancet Infectious Diseases is one of the first publications concerning the impact of PCV on pneumonia in a low-income country.
The pneumococcal vaccine impact study enrolled 18,833 patients and showed that the use of PCV in The Gambia reduced X-ray proven pneumonia in children by 24%, pneumococcal pneumonia by 63%, and very severe pneumonia by 61%. The study shows the real-life impact of introduction PCV in a developing country. Reducing the rate of pneumonia will save lives and reduces a substantial economic burden on the health system and families.

The publication is part of the Pneumococcal Surveillance Project (PSP) based at the MRC Unit The Gambia. The aim of PSP is to determine the impact of PCV when delivered within the Gambian national immunisation programme. The project is funded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation’s Pneumococcal Vaccines Accelerated Development and Introduction Programme, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Medical Research Council, UK.

The Project is led by Principal Investigator, Dr Grant Mackenzie and was conducted over an 8-year period in Basse, in the rural east of the country. The project was done as a collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, The Gambia; Medical Research Council (UK); London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; University of Otago; International Vaccine Access Centre at Johns Hopkins University; Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne; and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, Seattle. Even though the findings are reassuring, there is still a need for advocacy for PCV in low-income countries that have not yet introduced PCV. The PSP results should reassure developing countries that spending money to introduce PCV will reduce rates of severe pneumonia in children.

According to Dr Grant Mackenzie, the Principal Investigator for PSP, “Globally, pneumonia is the most common cause of death in childhood. The Gambia’s investment in PCV has reduced the number of children who develop X-ray proven pneumonia by 24% and the reduction in very severe pneumonia was 61%. Because the vaccine impact project in Basse was set in a routine immunisation programme, other low-income countries that use PCV in a routine manner with reasonable coverage can expect significant reductions in pneumonia with substantial reductions in its most severe forms.”


Acknowledgement: The Upper and Central River Region communities, the PSP team, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and all partners.

Find more details at Lancet Infectious Disease website on…


Media enquiries:

MRC Unit The Gambia

Dr Grant Mackenzie, Principal Investigator for PSP,…, Tel: +220 5669255, +220 7207826

Sarah Michelle Fernandes, Head of Communications,…

World Health Organisation (WHO), The Gambia

Dr Charles Sagoe Moses, WHO Country Director, Gambia,…, Tel: +220 446 22 83/86, +220 446 22 89

Kebba Gibba, Program officer,…, Tel: +220 9943842

Martin Ota, Head Immunisation Research,…, Tel: +242 06 9586652

Thomas Cherian, WHO IVB EPI,…, Tel: +41 227914460


United Nations International, Children's Education Fund (UNICEF)

Babucarr Boye, EPI Officer,…, Tel: +220 9954631

Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI)

Hope Johnson, Program Outcomes & Impact,…, Tel: +41 229097129

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

Gail Rodgers, Senior Program Officer,…, Tel: +1 206 7701962

+1 206 3849536

Programe for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)

Debbie Atherly, Senior Health Economist,…, Tel: +1 206 6836177


International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University (IVAC – JHU)

Julie Younkin, Head of Communications…

Lois Privor-Dumm,…

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

Karen Slater, PA to Brian Greenwood,…, Tel: +44 0 2072994712

Brian Greenwood, Professor of Tropical Med,…, Tel: +44 20 72994707      


Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)

Helen Thompson, Pneumococcal Research,… 0 399366771


University of Otago

Philip Hill, Centre for Internat. Health,…

Ministry of Health The Social Welfare, The Gambia

Dr ML Waggeh, Director of Health Services,… Tel: +220 3377202, 9889882

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