The vaccine was introduced in the national immunisation programme in 2017

A vaccine that India rolled out in its Universal Immunisation Programme in 2017 could prevent approximately 35,000 under-five pneumonia deaths, says a new study.

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in the UK and the Center for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy in the US and India conducted the joint research.

Pneumococcal pneumonia claimed the lives of an estimated 105,000 children under the age of five in 2010. PCV protects children against severe forms of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia and meningitis. Pneumonia kills more children under five years of age in India than any other infectious disease.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation is currently helping to fund PCV provision until 2021, after which the Indian government will have to bear the full costs.

The study, published in the journal ‘BMJ Global Health’, concludes the programme could prevent 34,800 under-five deaths, cost USD 240 million (Rs 1,600 crore) and save families USD 48.7 million in treatment costs annually.

“Pneumonia is a major cause of death in India and as many other countries have done the government decided to introduce PCV in its vaccination programme,” says Dr Itamar Megiddo, Assistant Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow at Strathclyde Business School and lead author of the research.

“However, PCV is expensive and its efficacy is uncertain for a number of reasons. These include a lack of information on the distribution of the disease-causing strains in India and lack of contextualised information on the efficacy of the vaccine in India and other low- and middle-income countries. The affordability and cost effectiveness for a country like India is especially important,” he added.

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