Pregnant woman taking a vaccination against covid-19 virus during pandemic in medical clinic office.
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A global maternal Strep B vaccination program could save lives and millions in healthcare costs

A global maternal strep B vaccination program would save millions in healthcare costs by reducing death and disability, but equitable access would likely not be achieved without tiered pricing.

The open-access journal PLOS Medicine has found that a global maternal strep B vaccination program could avert over 200,000 cases and more than 31,000 deaths and reduce disability in children.

What risk does Strep B pose to pregnant women and their babies?

Strep B can infect pregnant women and their babies and cause sepsis and meningitis in newborns. In some severe cases, this can lead to death or disability. It is also linked to increased risks of stillbirth and preterm births.

As vaccines for Strep B get closer to approval, an economic assessment will be carried out to inform investment decisions in further vaccine development, fair financing and pricing.

Simon Procter of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, and colleagues developed a cost-effectiveness model to assess Strep B vaccines in 140 million pregnant women in 183 countries in 2020.

The research team assumed that the vaccine would prevent infection in 80% of women vaccinated and that women receiving at least four antenatal visits would get vaccinated. This was based on the World Health Organization’s published list of preferred features for a Strep B vaccine.

They assumed a cost of the following:

  • $50 a dose in high-income countries
  • $15 in upper-middle-income
  • $3.50 in low- and lower-middle-income countries

Vaccination could avert 127,000 early-onset and 87,300 late-onset infant iGBS cases, 31,100 deaths, 17,900 cases of moderate and severe neurodevelopmental impairment, and 23,000 stillbirths.

A 1-dose global maternal strep B vaccination program could cost $1.7 billion, but save $385 million in healthcare costs

Sadly, there are some study limitations. For example, the research is limited by a lack of some data, including the impact of Step B on health-related quality of life and long-term costs of disability.

However, researchers estimate that a 1-dose global maternal strep B vaccination program could cost $1.7 billion globally while saving $385 million in healthcare costs. Tiered vaccine pricing, they believe, would enable equitable access.

Dr. Procter concludes, “By reducing severe GBS infections, an effective maternal GBS vaccine deployed worldwide could prevent tens of thousands of newborn deaths and stillbirths each year.

“Our findings suggest maternal vaccination against GBS could be cost-effective in most countries, and we hope this will encourage the further investment needed to bring GBS vaccines to market.”


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