October 29, 2017

Research Roundup: Wearable immunization trackers, a potential pneumonia vaccine, and a newly recommended typhoid vaccine

Program Assistant
PATH/Heng Chivoan

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance has partnered with the wearable tech company Kushi Baby to bridge the immunization gap for infants in low-income communities. About 1.5 million children die every year from vaccine-preventable illnesses, and one in three do not receive the immunizations they need simply because health professionals "do not know they exist." This partnership will provide children with a wearable necklace technology that remotely tracks and updates their immunization history. The technology allows health professionals to more accurately provide the supplies needed when traveling to rural communities and reach children in need of immunization. This year 1,500 infants in Northern India received the necklaces. The partnership has a goal of increasing distribution to 5,000 necklaces by the end of the year.

A new vaccine under development may lower pneumonia incidence and mortality rates by targeting additional strains of the bacteria, according to a new study published in Science Advances. Current pneumonia vaccines only target the most common strains of the illness, but this vaccine candidate targets dozens of additional strains. The candidate may also help maintain the body’s microbiome—a collection of healthy bacteria often killed during the immunization process—by “attack[ing] [bacteria] only if it breaks away from the colony to cause an illness.”

The World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has recommended a new typhoid fever vaccine that has demonstrated up to 87 percent effectiveness during a clinical study. This typhoid vaccine is the first of its kind licensed for use in children under two years of age. SAGE recommended the vaccine be given to children 6 months old and that catch-up campaigns be administered to immunize children between the ages of 6 months and 15 years of age. With drug-resistant typhoid growing in typhoid-endemic communities, the vaccine will also be a valuable tool in combatting antimicrobial resistance.