Pneumonia vaccine saves 500,000 lives in world’s poorest countries

Over 109 million children in the developing world have now received pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)

The rollout of pneumonia vaccine has prevented the deaths of over half a million children in developing countries over the past decade, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said today.

Since 2007, 109 million children have received pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which protects against the leading cause of pneumonia, with the support of Gavi. Vaccination coverage in Gavi-supported countries has now reached 41%, up from 35% in 2015 and almost equaling the global average of 42%.

“Hundreds of thousands of children in the world’s poorest countries are alive today thanks to pneumococcal vaccine,” said Dr Berkley. “I’m immensely proud of the role Gavi has played in expanding access to this lifesaver over the past ten years, but millions of children remain unprotected. This is an entirely preventable, treatable disease that still takes the lives of more children than any other illness, causing untold needless suffering. We cannot afford to lose focus in the fight against pneumonia.”

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Children in the poorest countries typically received newly developed vaccines more than a decade later than children in the richest countries. With help from the AMC developing countries began to introduce the latest formulations of PCV as soon as a year after they were first made available.

Funded by Italy, UK, Canada, Russia, Norway and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this unique financing mechanism has allowed eligible countries to access affordable PCV vaccines at a cost of less than 10% of the US market price. Gavi has now helped 58 countries across Africa and Asia to introduce the vaccine into their routine immunisation programmes.

However, pneumonia remains the biggest killer of children under 5 worldwide, killing more than malaria, diarrhoea and measles combined. Nearly one million children, more than 80% of which are under two years old, die from the disease every year. PCV, Hib and measles vaccines are some of the most effective ways to prevent the disease.

This week in Bahrain global health experts are set to agree on the final vaccine indicators for the SDGs, setting the framework for global immunisation efforts until 2030. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is calling for coverage of the third dose of PCV, among other vital vaccines, to be included as an indicator to ensure the global health community does not lose focus on expanding access to this lifesaving vaccine.


Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is supported by donor governments (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, Alwaleed Philanthropies, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, China Merchants Group, Comic Relief, Deutsche Post DHL, the ELMA Vaccines and Immunization Foundation, Girl Effect, The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW), the Gulf Youth Alliance, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Majid Al Futtaim, Philips, Unilever, UPS and Vodafone).