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India's pneumonia vaccination will be worth the expense: Study

Press Trust of India  |  London 

An programme to vaccinate 27 million new-born babies against pneumococcus could prevent approximately 35,000 under-five deaths, according to a new worldwide study.

Researchers at the in the UK and the Center for Dynamics Economics and Policy in the US and conducted the joint research to predict the potential outcome and cost-effectiveness of the new programme.

The is currently rolling out a (PCV) across the country to tackle the disease, which claimed the lives of an estimated 105,000 children under the age of five in 2010.

However, the vaccine is significantly more expensive than others included in India's Universal Immunisation Programme. In addition, its effectiveness in low and middle-income countries remains uncertain.

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

The study, published this week 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.

"is a major cause of death in and as many other countries have done the government decided to introduce PCV in its programme," says Dr Itamar Megiddo, Assistant Professor and Chancellor's Fellow at and

"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 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 notes.

Megiddo said that while their study had its limitations due to data gaps, but even with conservative assumptions they believe the would avert a significant number of deaths.

He added: "It would also protect some of the poorest people in India from potentially catastrophic expenditure and deliver value for money.

"We would recommend the Indian government includes PCV vaccination in the Universal Immunisation Programme, and the vaccine's effectiveness should be continuously monitored as it is rolled out to provide more data to inform vaccination strategy."

This research outcome assumed vaccination coverage levels similar to those achieved by the diphtheria, and (DPT) immunisation programme, approximately 77 per cent.

Increasing the coverage level to 90 per cent was found to be the most cost-effective outcome in over 95 per cent of simulated outcomes.

The researchers used a model they had previously developed and validated called IndiaSim, which is of the Indian population and system. The analysis considered the distribution of the dominant strains of in India and the characteristics and behaviour of the host population within the country's system.

The study was funded by the Bill & through the and supported by through its Grand Challenges Program.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, July 09 2018. 16:35 IST