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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Vaccination accounts for almost half of mortality decline in infants

Health Industry Hub | May 6, 2024 |

Pharma News: Researchers have mapped the impact of vaccines to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).

The findings show that since 1974, vaccination has saved approximately 154 million lives – most of these children under the age of five.

“We estimate that the EPI has provided the single greatest contribution to infant survival over the past 50 years,” said Associate Professor Andrew Shattock, Intervention and Infectious Diseases Modelling Team at Telethon Kids Institute and University of Western Australia.

Hue further added “The collaborative efforts of countries around the world to implement the EPI has averted approximately 154 million deaths – significantly, around 146 million children under the age of five. The study found that for every death averted, 66 years of full health were gained, on average.”

The EPI was an initiative established by the World Health Assembly in 1974 with the goal to vaccinate all children against smallpox, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and measles by 1990. The program was then expanded to include other diseases.

The findings estimated that vaccination had accounted for 40% of the observed decline in global infant mortality.

“In 2024 a child at any age under 10 years is 40% more likely to survive to their next birthday thanks to vaccination efforts over the past 50 years. Increased survival probability is observed even well into late adulthood. We also discovered that measles vaccination accounted for 60% of the total benefit of vaccination over the 50-year period, which was also the greatest driver of lives saved,” Associate Professor Shattock explained.

“We are at an historic moment in infectious disease control. The next 50 years will require improvements in targeting and reach amid future complex realities for unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children and communities. Continuous engagement of communities in vaccine uptake is crucial since hard won gains can so easily be lost,” the authors concluded.

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