In the above visualization we see the global number of deaths from pneumonia by age group. 15% of all child deaths in 2017 were caused by pneumonia and it is therefore the leading cause of death of children. The number of children dying from pneumonia has decreased substantially over the past three decades. In 1990, more than two million children died from pneumonia every year. By 2017, this number had fallen by almost two-thirds.Improvements in the major risk factors such as childhood wasting, air pollution, and poor sanitation, falling global poverty, and a better availability of health technology such as pneumococcal vaccines and antibiotics have all contributed to this decline.
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The statistics above also show estimates of the potential impact of the pneumococcal vaccine. It is based on a recent study published in The Lancet Global Health journal, which calculated that if the PCV vaccine coverage would reach at least the levels of the vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3), the lives of 399,000 children under 5 could be saved.38 Additionally the researchers estimate that 54.6 million pneumonia episodes annually could be averted.
These number estimate the impact of the PCV vaccination relative to a world without that vaccine – since the vaccine is already used it means that some of these lives are already being saved by the PVC vaccination. However, in many countries PCV vaccination rates still fall far below the DTP3 rates, making clear that we still haven’t used the pneumococcal vaccine to its full potential.