Objective: Pakistan was one of the first South-Asian countries to introduce the ten-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) at the national level, using a 3+0 schedule without catchup, in 2013.
Methods: From 2014-18, fifteen children <2 years old were recruited every week in Matiari, Sindh, and nasopharyngeal swabs were collected. The samples were cultured, and pneumococcus was further serotyped through multiplex PCR at the Aga Khan University Hospital as per the method described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.
Results: Pneumococcus was detected in 2370/3140 (75%) children. Vaccine type (VT) and non-vaccine type (NVT) serotypes were carried by 379 and 1990 children. There was a significant decline in VT carriage (by 40.3%, p-value <0.001), whereas overall NVT carriage remained the same. The prevalence of VT serotypes 6B, 9V/9A, and 19F showed a significant decline by 58.8%, 79.3%, and 56%, respectively. The prevalence of NVT serotypes 19A, 21, and 10A increased by 70%, 33.3%, and 65.6%, respectively, whereas serotypes 13 and 9N/9L decreased by 53.4% and 51.8%, respectively. Serotype-specific vaccine effectiveness estimates that reached statistical significance were for 9V/9A (VE = 65.0, 95% CI 26.0-83.5%), 19F (VE = 55.3, 95% CI 15.5-76.4%) and for the vaccine related serotype 6A (VE = 28.4, 95% CI 0.9-48.2%).
Conclusion: The emergence of NVT serotypes, primarily 19A replacing VT serotypes in this rural community, necessitates continuous monitoring of serotypes in the carriage and invasive disease to evaluate the utility of existing vaccine formulations.