Maternal immunisation against Group B Streptococcus: A global analysis of health impact and cost-effectiveness

PLoS Med. 2023 Mar 14;20(3):e1004068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004068. eCollection 2023 Mar.


Background: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) can cause invasive disease (iGBS) in young infants, typically presenting as sepsis or meningitis, and is also associated with stillbirth and preterm birth. GBS vaccines are under development, but their potential health impact and cost-effectiveness have not been assessed globally.

Methods and findings: We assessed the health impact and value (using net monetary benefit (NMB), which measures both health and economic effects of vaccination into monetary units) of GBS maternal vaccination in an annual cohort of 140 million pregnant women across 183 countries in 2020. Our analysis uses a decision tree model, incorporating risks of GBS-related health outcomes from an existing Bayesian disease burden model. We extrapolated country-specific GBS-related healthcare costs using data from a previous systematic review and calculated quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost due to infant mortality and long-term disability. We assumed 80% vaccine efficacy against iGBS and stillbirth, following the WHO Preferred Product Characteristics, and coverage based on the proportion of pregnant women receiving at least 4 antenatal visits. One dose was assumed to cost $50 in high-income countries, $15 in upper-middle income countries, and $3.50 in low-/lower-middle-income countries. We estimated NMB using alternative normative assumptions that may be adopted by policymakers. Vaccinating pregnant women could avert 127,000 (95% uncertainty range 63,300 to 248,000) early-onset and 87,300 (38,100 to 209,000) late-onset infant iGBS cases, 31,100 deaths (14,400 to 66,400), 17,900 (6,380 to 49,900) cases of moderate and severe neurodevelopmental impairment, and 23,000 (10,000 to 56,400) stillbirths. A vaccine effective against GBS-associated prematurity might also avert 185,000 (13,500 to 407,000) preterm births. Globally, a 1-dose vaccine programme could cost $1.7 billion but save $385 million in healthcare costs. Estimated global NMB ranged from $1.1 billion ($-0.2 to 3.8 billion) under the least favourable normative assumptions to $17 billion ($9.1 to 31 billion) under the most favourable normative assumptions. The main limitation of our analysis was the scarcity of data to inform some of the model parameters such as those governing health-related quality of life and long-term costs from disability, and how these parameters may vary across country contexts.

Conclusions: In this study, we found that maternal GBS vaccination could have a large impact on infant morbidity and mortality. Globally, a GBS maternal vaccine at reasonable prices is likely to be a cost-effective intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*
  • Quality of Life
  • Stillbirth
  • Streptococcal Infections* / epidemiology
  • Streptococcal Infections* / prevention & control
  • Streptococcus agalactiae
  • Vaccination / methods
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines