10 Nov Partner Highlight: Investing in the Future of Pneumonia Prevention
Pneumonia is a complicated disease that kills a child every 20 seconds, mainly in the developing world where healthcare resources are scarce. The pneumococcus bacterium, pneumonia’s leading cause, has more than 90 varieties alone. Controlling this complex threat to global health is within reach, but requires a comprehensive approach that utilizes the full suite of prevention tools at our disposal. To this end, expanding the availability of today’s vaccines while continuing to invest in the vaccines of tomorrow is essential.
At PATH, we’re supporting the future of pneumonia prevention by speeding the development of new vaccines tailored to the long-term health and cost needs of the world’s most vulnerable children. We collaborate with public- and private-sector partners on a number of innovative strategies to develop affordable and effective vaccines against pneumococcal disease, which kills over 800,000 children under the age of five each year.
New pneumococcal vaccines based on proteins common to all varieties of pneumococcus are an approach we’re pursuing that shows particular promise. The common protein vaccines help the body’s immune system recognize and defend against virtually all strains of pneumococcus. These vaccines differ from currently licensed pneumococcal vaccines because they provide broad protection rather than targeting a limited number of pneumococcal varieties. Due to simpler and more efficient production processes, protein vaccines also have the potential to be relatively low cost. While still in the early stages of development, these vaccines could be effective, inexpensive, and sustainable prevention options for the future.
We’re also working with partners around the world on a shorter-term strategy to speed the development of vaccines that apply currently-licensed technologies more cost-effectively to meet needs where pneumococcal disease hits hardest. Our approach focuses specifically on the varieties of pneumococcus causing the most disease in the developing world and combines proven methods with new innovations that are helping to speed vaccine development and lower costs. If successful, this streamlined approach could help maximize protection in low-resource countries at less cost and make access to pneumococcal vaccines easier in these settings.
With the generous help of global health organizations and international donors, current vaccines against pneumonia and other forms of pneumococcal disease are thankfully becoming more available to traditionally underserved populations and are making great strides in reducing disease. Our work at PATH complements these efforts by investing in innovations that will help enhance the global health community’s ability to prevent this childhood killer over the long-term, no matter where it strikes.
More about PATH
PATH is an international nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. Learn more about PATH’s vaccine development work against the leading cause of pneumonia.