Data on the national-level impact of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) introduction on mortality are lacking from Africa. PCV was introduced in South Africa in 2009. We estimated the impact of PCV introduction on all-cause pneumonia mortality in South Africa, while controlling for changes in mortality due to other interventions.
We used national death registration data in South Africa from 1999 to 2016 to assess the impact of PCV introduction on all-cause pneumonia mortality in all ages, with the exclusion of infants aged <1 month. We created a composite (synthetic) control using Bayesian variable selection of nondiarrheal, nonpneumonia, and nonpneumococcal deaths to estimate the number of expected all-cause pneumonia deaths in the absence of PCV introduction post 2009. We compared all-cause pneumonia deaths from the death registry to the expected deaths in 2012 to 2016. We also estimated the number of prevented deaths during 2009 to 2016. Of the 9,324,638 deaths reported in South Africa from 1999 to 2016, 12·6% were pneumonia-related. Compared to number of deaths expected, we estimated a 33% (95% credible interval (CrI) 26% to 43%), 23% (95%CrI 17% to 29%), 25% (95%CrI 19% to 32%), and 23% (95%CrI 11% to 32%) reduction in pneumonia mortality in children aged 1 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 7 years, and 8 to 18 years in 2012 to 2016, respectively. In total, an estimated 18,422 (95%CrI 12,388 to 26,978) pneumonia-related deaths were prevented from 2009 to 2016 in children aged <19 years. No declines were estimated observed among adults following PCV introduction. This study was mainly limited by coding errors in original data that could have led to a lower impact estimate, and unmeasured factors could also have confounded estimates.
This study found that the introduction of PCV was associated with substantial reduction in all-cause pneumonia deaths in children aged 1 month to <19 years. The model predicted an effect of PCV in age groups who were eligible for vaccination (1 months to 4 years), and an indirect effect in those too old (8 to 18 years) to be vaccinated. These findings support sustaining pneumococcal vaccination to reduce pneumonia-related mortality in children.