The Pneumococcal Modeling (PneuMOD) Project is a CDDEP effort to provide informed policy solutions for alleviating the global pneumococcal disease burden.
Pneumococcal diseases are responsible for an estimated 826,000 deaths of children under the age of five each year, and the highest toll is in the developing world. Disease occurs when the bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, spreads to normally sterile areas of the human body, leading to pneumonia, meningitis, or sepsis, among other diseases.
Antibiotics can treat the disease, but their use contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance. It seems clear that vaccination, which prevents the disease from occurring, is the optimal policy. But although vaccines are currently available, there are several unresolved questions about the S. pneumoniae bacteria, how human body protection works, and the resulting effects of the vaccine on the population level. For example, the vaccine is designed to protect against the most common serotypes, but where it has been used there is some evidence of serotype replacement meaning other serotypes become more prevalent. If the vaccine serotypes are replaced by similarly, or more invasive serotypes, vaccination may even have perverse effects.
PneuMOD is designed to take into account such uncertainties, modeling different scenarios to work towards informed policy.
Image credit: Flickr: Sanofi Pasteur