Background: Routine vaccination of infants against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) needs substantial investment by governments and charitable organisations. Policymakers need information about the projected health benefits, costs, and cost-effectiveness of vaccination when considering these investments. Our aim was to incorporate these data into an economic analysis of pneumococcal vaccination of infants in countries eligible for financial support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI).
Methods: We constructed a decision analysis model to compare pneumococcal vaccination of infants aged 6, 10, and 14 weeks with no vaccination in the 72 countries that were eligible as of 2005. We used published and unpublished data to estimate child mortality, effectiveness of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, and immunisation rates.
Findings: Pneumococcal vaccination at the rate of diptheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine coverage was projected to prevent 262,000 deaths per year (7%) in children aged 3-29 months in the 72 developing countries studied, thus averting 8.34 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) yearly. If every child could be reached, up to 407,000 deaths per year would be prevented. At a vaccine cost of International 5 dollars per dose, vaccination would have a net cost of 838 million dollars, a cost of 100 dollars per DALY averted. Vaccination at this price was projected to be highly cost-effective in 68 of 72 countries when each country's per head gross domestic product per DALY averted was used as a benchmark.
Interpretation: At a vaccine cost of between 1 dollar and 5 dollars per dose, purchase and accelerated uptake of pneumococcal vaccine in the world's poorest countries is projected to substantially reduce childhood mortality and to be highly cost-effective.