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Current Affairs

Cheaper pneumococcal vaccine

Date: 08 January 2020 Tags: Biotechnology


A vaccine against a leading cause of deadly childhood pneumonia, the pneumococcus bacterium, has achieved prequalification by the World Health Organization (WHO).



The vaccine is developed though a collaboration spanning over a decade between Serum Institute of India, Pvt., Ltd. (SIIPL) and PATH and with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



  • The vaccine is expected to provide protection for children on par with other pneumococcal conjugate vaccines at a price that is more affordable for low- and middle-income countries.

  • In addition to pneumonia, the pneumococcus bacterium causes other serious, life-threatening diseases like meningitis and sepsis. It is estimated to cause nearly 400,000 deaths in children under five years of age each year worldwide.

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have helped significantly reduce pneumococcal deaths and illness where introduced but are difficult for many countries to afford.

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are among the most complex vaccines to manufacture.

  • The current  manufacturing process has been optimized to make it more efficient, reducing costs while preserving vaccine quality and making the vaccine a more affordable option for countries with the highest burdens of pneumococcal disease.

Conjugate vaccine

  • Conjugate vaccines combine a weak antigen with a strong antigen as a carrier so that the immune system has a stronger response to the weak antigen.

  • The antigen of some pathogenic bacteria does not elicit a strong response from the immune system, so a vaccination against this weak antigen would not protect the person later in life. In this case, a conjugate vaccine is used in order to invoke an immune system response against the weak antigen.


Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs with a range of possible causes. It can be a serious and life-threatening disease. It normally starts with a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.