The pneumococcus bacterium is the main cause of pneumonia and an important cause of meningitis in children in the developing world. It currently kills about one million children every year, but a new kind of vaccine called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine holds great promise for preventing this infection in the future. After many years of background epidemiological work and pilot vaccine trials, Professor Brian Greenwood from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and his colleagues from the MRC Laboratories in The Gambia have started a large clinical trial of such a vaccine. The trial will last for 5-6 years and could lead to the introduction of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine into the routine immunisation programme for children in developing countries.
The Lancet 2000; 356: 1210-1211