Background: The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine's (PCV) impact on childhood pneumonia during programmatic conditions in Africa is poorly understood. Following PCV13 introduction in Malawi in November 2011, we evaluated the case burden and rates of childhood pneumonia. Methods and Findings: Between January 1, 2012-June 30, 2014 we conducted active pneumonia surveillance in children <5 years at seven hospitals, 18 health centres, and with 38 community health workers in two districts, central Malawi. Eligible children had clinical pneumonia per Malawi guidelines, defined as fast breathing only, chest indrawing +/- fast breathing, or, ≥1 clinical danger sign. Since pulse oximetry was not in the Malawi guidelines, oxygenation <90% defined hypoxemic pneumonia, a distinct category from clinical pneumonia. We quantified the pneumonia case burden and rates in two ways. We compared the period immediately following vaccine introduction (early) to the period with >75% three-dose PCV13 coverage (post). We also used multivariable time-series regression, adjusting for autocorrelation and exploring seasonal variation and alternative model specifications in sensitivity analyses. The early versus post analysis showed an increase in cases and rates of total, fast breathing, and indrawing pneumonia and a decrease in danger sign and hypoxemic pneumonia, and pneumonia mortality. At 76% three-dose PCV13 coverage, versus 0%, the time-series model showed a non-significant increase in total cases (+47%, 95% CI: -13%, +149%, p = 0.154); fast breathing cases increased 135% (+39%, +297%, p = 0.001), however, hypoxemia fell 47% (-5%, -70%, p = 0.031) and hospital deaths decreased 36% (-1%, -58%, p = 0.047) in children <5 years. We observed a shift towards disease without danger signs, as the proportion of cases with danger signs decreased by 65% (-46%, -77%, p<0.0001). These results were generally robust to plausible alternative model specifications. Conclusions: Thirty months after PCV13 introduction in Malawi, the health system burden and rates of the severest forms of childhood pneumonia, including hypoxemia and death, have markedly decreased.
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