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START Research Assistants travel to Australia to Gather IPD Serotype Data & Attend ISPPD

START Research Assistants travel to Australia to Gather IPD Serotype Data & Attend ISPPD

Every year approximately 900,000 children under 5 years of age die from pneumonia. The leading cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. While PCV10 and PCV13 protect against invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), which includes sepsis, bacteremia, and bacteremic pneumonia, among others, these vaccines only cover 10–13 of the over 90 different serotypes. Furthermore, some evidence suggests that infections due to vaccine serotypes are being replaced by non-vaccine serotypes. The need for new vaccines that cover more serotypes is in demand, but which serotypes should be targeted?

In an effort to better understand the global epidemiology of IPD serotypes and inform the development of the next generation pneumococcal vaccines, the Pneumonia Strategy team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned the START Center in June 2017 to conduct a review of literature and contact IPD researchers to obtain IPD serotype data from around the world. The START team created an Excel-based data collection tool with built-in data visualization features to assist with gathering and analyzing serotype data. At project completion in October 2017, the START team collected data from over 170,000 isolates. However, as seen in previous reviews of IPD serotype data, the data collected were primarily from high-income, non-Gavi-eligible countries.

In March 2018, the Pneumonia Strategy team revived the project in hopes of collecting additional data at the 11th International Symposium on Pneumococci & Pneumococcal Diseases (ISPPD) in Melbourne, Australia in April 2018. At the conference, the Pneumonia Strategy team hosted an informational breakfast where the START team presented initial findings of the IPD serotype project to researchers who may be willing to share IPD serotype data. The START team highlighted the data gap, emphasizing the need for representation of serotype data from Gavi-eligible countries. In addition to speaking with researchers throughout the conference, the START team attended prioritized presentations and aided in cataloging posters to document potential IPD serotype data.

Following the conference, the START team continues to engage with IPD researchers to collect serotype data and update their literature review with the latest data from surveillance reports and peer-reviewed literature. The START team will update the data collection tool and data summary materials for the final deliverables. The additional data collected from ISPPD and an updated literature review will provide a more comprehensive snapshot of the global distribution of IPD serotypes. The START team hopes these findings will provide some insight for the development of the next generation of pneumococcal vaccines.