Southampton researchers have formed a new partnership with scientists in Thailand. Together, they aim to lay the groundwork for the introduction of a pneumonia vaccine.
The study will be led by Professor Stuart Clarke from the University of Southampton and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. He will work with researchers at Mahidol University and Siam University in Bangkok.
Leading cause of child deaths
Pneumonia is a leading cause of mortality in children. Worldwide it accounts for 16% of all deaths of children under five years old. In 2015 it killed more than 920,000 children.
The commonest cause of pneumonia in young children is the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. A vaccine against this is often given in western countries. But a lack of evidence-based public health policy in Thailand limits vaccine introduction.
Supporting future vaccination programmes
The researchers will use bacteria previously isolated from the lungs of children with pneumonia. These will come from children across the country. They will analyse these to discover which strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae they contain.
The study will provide insights that will help prepare for the introduction of a vaccine. It will also be an opportunity to help educate early career researchers in Thailand.
Professor Clarke, Professor of Microbiology and Public Health and Honorary Consultant in Public Health, said:
“There is relatively little information on pneumococcal epidemiology across Southeast Asia, which is concerning due to the risks associated with pneumococcal infection and a rise in antimicrobial resistance.”