PCV13 Pneumonia Vaccine Proven Effective Against Pneumonia Requiring Oxygen Therapy


The PCV13 pneumonia vaccine was effective at protecting children in Laos against the most severe type of pneumonia, according to a study published in The Lancet Regional Health—Western Pacific. The research found that PCV13 reduced hypoxic pneumonia and pneumonia requiring oxygen support by 37%. The investigators said that although pneumococcal vaccines were known to reduce severe cases of childhood pneumonia, no studies from Asia had measured their efficacy until now.

The study focused on 826 children, aged 5 years or younger, admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. According to the authors, the positive results from the study meant that the PCV13 vaccine had great potential to alleviate the burden of pneumonia on the most vulnerable, as the disease was a leading cause of childhood deaths in Laos. Pneumonia requiring oxygen therapy is one of the disease’s most severe manifestations.

“Universal health care did not exist in Laos until recently, and supplementary oxygen treatment was prohibitively expensive for families,” said Cattram Nguyen, PhD, in a press release.

The researchers also said that Asian countries have been very slow to introduce PCV13 into their national immunization programs. The current study was in response to a request by the Laotian Ministry of Health for evidence of the vaccine’s health benefits to support its ongoing use.

“These results provide a compelling argument to continue childhood PCV13 vaccination in Laos and for its introduction into similar countries with high death rates from pneumonia,” said Fiona Russell, PhD, in the release.

According to Russell, measuring this vaccine’s success would typically require thousands of cases collected over many years of surveillance, and would most likely involve many hospitals. However, the current study described a simple, low-cost single hospital-based method to assess vaccine efficacy that could reasonably be used by other low and middle-income countries.

“In this study, we enrolled children hospitalized with hypoxic and non-hypoxic pneumonia in a single hospital and compared pneumococcal vaccination rates between the two groups to determine vaccine effectiveness over about four years,” Russell said in the release.


Vaccine proves effective against the most severe type of pneumonia [news release]. EurekAlert; September 10, 2020. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/mcri-vpe090820.php

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