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Pneumococcal vaccines

This page is no longer updated.
It was archived on 8 July 2008 and is kept for historical purposes only. The latest content is available at http://www.who.int/selection_medicines/en/

Vaccine research and development


Pneumococcal vaccines

responsible officer: Dr Thomas Cherian

Prevention of pneumococcal disease by vaccination is one of the approaches to control the high rates of morbidity and mortality due to this organism. A polyvalent polysaccharide vaccine has been available for several years but this vaccine is poorly immunogenic in children, who are at highest risk for invasive disease, and does not result in immunological memory. A 7-valent glycoprotein conjugate vaccine has recently been licensed for use in children in the United States. Several new conjugate vaccines containing 9 or 11 serotypes of pneumococcus are undergoing trials, some of which are in developing countries. Other candidate vaccines using protein antigens that are common to all pneumococci, are also in the early phases of clinical trials. These vaccines, if efficacious, will have a very important role in reducing mortality in developing country populations. WHO has an important role in promoting research to evaluate and planning strategies for introduction of these vaccines in developing country populations.


Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines

Ongoing efficacy trials

The WHO has played an important role in the monitoring of the ongoing efficacy trials of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in South Africa, The Gambia and the Philippines through the steering committees and DSMB. In addition, WHO is also a principal sponsor of the efficacy trial in The Gambia.


Standardisation of data collection

WHO has also been the focal point for three activities that aim to standardise procedures to collect data on key outcomes across the various trials to ensure that comparable data are collected at each site in a standardised manner. This effort is critical to the interpretation of these data. These efforts include:

  • Standardisation of radiological diagnosis of pneumonia
  • Standardisation of procedures to study nasopharyngeal carriage of pneumococcus
  • Standardisation for estimating cost-effectiveness of immunisation.


Additional studies

In addition, WHO is supporting or planning to support studies to evaluate the glycoprotein conjugate vaccines in newborn infants and those infected with HIV. WHO also plans to support studies evaluating alternative vaccination schedules with conjugate vaccines.


The GAVI Pneumococcal Vaccine Accelerated Development and Introduction Plan (ADIP)

In 2003 GAVI launched the Accelerated Development and Introduction Plan (ADIP). This is an initiative to facilitate the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in developing countries. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore has been selected as the host institution and WHO will be a key partner in this effort.


Pneumococcal common protein vaccines

Two potential problems associated with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that have been identified earlier were the limited protection due to serotype specificity and the high cost of the vaccine. Another strategy to overcome these problems would be the use of common protein vaccines. These proteins are common to all serotypes of Pneumococcus and appear to be immunogenic and protective in animal models. They are also likely to be less expensive to manufacture than the polyvalent vaccines which use the capsular polysaccharide as the immunising antigen since they can be produced in large amounts using inexpensive recombinant technology. Thus, they have a greater potential for use in developing countries with high burden of disease and limited resources.

WHO's role would be to accelerate the development and evaluation of these vaccines and facilitate and support human trials at developing country sites.

...read more about pneumococcal vaccines

Updated April 2003


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