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Scand J Immunol. 2002 Aug;56(2):111-29.

Current state of pneumococcal vaccines.

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Department of Vaccines, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and acute otitis media in children and adults worldwide. According to World Health Organization estimates, at least 1 million children under 5 years of age die each year from pneumococcal pneumonia. The emergence of resistant strains necessitates the development of an effective vaccine with a large serotype coverage. The 11 most common serotypes cause 72-83% of all serious pneumococcal diseases worldwide. Currently marketed 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine provides large serotype coverage and offers a less expensive option. However, it is efficacious only in adults but not in infants. Conjugate vaccines offer a solution by generating immunological memory already at early age. A recently licensed 7-valent conjugate vaccine is immunogenic and efficacious in infants. Its serotype coverage might be sufficient in Europe and North America, but not in Africa, Asia and Oceania. A need exists to develop pneumococcal vaccines with lower cost and larger serotype coverage. Several 11-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are being evaluated in phase I-III trials. This study reviews the current state of pneumococcal problem and pneumococcal vaccines in clinical use.

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