Vaccines, economics, and evolution

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Science  16 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6539, pp. 251-252
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6539.251-f

Persistent respiratory tract infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) lead to chronic antibiotic misuse. However, the dangers of death from antibiotic resistance, which leads to invasive disease, are growing. Using an agent-based model, Lu et al. demonstrate that, to some extent, we can vaccinate our way out of trouble. China accounts for about 12% of global childhood pneumococcal infections. Increasing pneumococcal conjugate vaccine coverage in this country would reduce the use of several common antibiotics. The authors tested various scenarios, including accelerated vaccine coverage, which after 5 years reduces antimicrobial resistance by up to 17% and cumulative costs by up to $586 million USD. Thus, government investment in pneumococcal vaccination can bring both economic and evolutionary benefits.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 118, e2004933118 (2021).

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