BACKGROUND: In Nepal, Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children, and is a major health concern. There are few data on the effect of vaccination on the disease or colonisation with pneumococci in the nasopharynx of children in this setting. The 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) was introduced into the routine infant immunisation schedule in Nepal in 2015. We aimed to investigate the effect of the introduction of PCV10 on pneumococcal carriage and disease in children in Nepal. METHODS: We did an observational cohort study in children in Nepal. The hospital surveillance study took place in Patan Hospital, Kathmandu, and community studies in healthy children took place in Kathmandu and Okhaldhunga district. For the surveillance study, all children admitted to Patan Hospital between March 20, 2014, and Dec 31, 2019, aged between 2 months and 14 years with clinician-suspected pneumonia, were eligible for enrolment. For the community study, healthy children aged 0-8 weeks, 6-23 months, and 24-59 months were recruited from Kathmandu, and healthy children aged 6-23 months were recruited from Okhaldhunga. We assessed the programmatic effect of PCV10 introduction using surveillance for nasopharyngeal colonisation, pneumonia, and invasive bacterial disease from 1·5 years before vaccine introduction and 4·5 years after vaccine introduction. For the surveillance study, nasopharyngeal swabs, blood cultures, and chest radiographs were obtained from children admitted to Patan Hospital with suspected pneumonia or invasive bacterial disease. For the community study, nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from healthy children in the urban and rural settings. Pneumonia outcomes were analysed using log-binomial models and adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) comparing each calendar year after the introduction of the vaccine into the national programme with the pre-vaccine period (2014-15), adjusted for calendar month, age, and sex. FINDINGS: Between March 20, 2014, and Dec 31, 2019, we enrolled 2051 children with suspected pneumonia, and 11 354 healthy children (8483 children aged 6-23 months, 761 aged 24-59 months, and 2110 aged 0-8 weeks) to assess nasopharyngeal colonisation. Among clinical pneumonia cases younger than 2 years, vaccine serotype carriage declined 82% (aPR 0·18 [95% CI 0·07-0·50]) by 2019. There was no decrease in vaccine serotype carriage in cases among older unvaccinated age groups. Carriage of the additional serotypes in PCV13 was 2·2 times higher by 2019 (aPR 2·17 [95% CI 1·16-4·05]), due to increases in serotypes 19A and 3. Vaccine serotype carriage in healthy children declined by 75% in those aged 6-23 months (aPR 0·25 [95% CI 0·19-0·33]) but not in those aged 24-59 months (aPR 0·59 [0·29-1·19]). A decrease in overall vaccine serotype carriage of 61% by 2019 (aPR 0·39 [95% CI 0·18-0·85]) was also observed in children younger than 8 weeks who were not yet immunised. Carriage of the additional PCV13 serotypes in children aged 6-23 months increased after PCV10 introduction for serotype 3 and 19A, but not for serotype 6A. The proportion of clinical pneumonia cases with endpoint consolidation on chest radiographs declined from 41% in the pre-vaccine period to 25% by 2018, but rose again in 2019 to 36%. INTERPRETATION: The introduction of the PCV10 vaccine into the routine immunisation programme in Nepal has reduced vaccine serotype carriage in both healthy children and children younger than 2 years with pneumonia. Increases in serotypes 19A and 3 highlight the importance of continued surveillance to monitor the effect of vaccine programmes. This analysis demonstrates a robust approach to assessing vaccine effect in situations in which pneumococcal disease endpoint effectiveness studies are not possible. FUNDING: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization.
Lancet Glob Health
e1494 - e1504
Carrier State, Child, Cohort Studies, Humans, Infant, Nepal, Pneumococcal Infections, Pneumococcal Vaccines, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae