Vaccines have now been proven to help reduce antibiotic resistance.
A recent report in Nature speaks of how vaccination against a pneumococcus strain has had an unexpected positive effect for subjects in Africa—besides imparting immunity against the pathogen, it also brought down the latter’s antibiotic resistance.
In South Africa, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) against Streptococcus pneumoniae has brought down the overall incidence of pneumococcal diseases by two-thirds in both infants (the vaccinated group) and adults since its introduction.
Researchers found that PCV reduced penicillin-resistance in the pathogen and surmise that this has made transmissions less virulent.
This is the first time that such a trend has been reported from a developing country—between 1998 and 2008, vaccines were found to have caused a 64% decrease in penicillin-resistant pneumococci in children and a 45% fall in adults above 65 years of age in the US.
The findings in South Africa bear incremental significance for developing nations, especially the tropical countries, where the disease burden is high and round-the-year access to medicines is often disrupted.
Given the high malnutrition levels, compounded by the poor sanitation levels, the situation here is ripe for antibiotic resistance.
Drugs are over-prescribed while, given the poor awareness levels, patients don’t often complete the full course.
The WHO recently named the developing world—largely, swathes of Asia and Africa—as the regions most vulnerable to antibiotic resistance while terming the phenomenon a global health emergency. Thus, vaccine programmes, especially those that could bring down antibiotic resistance as well, could be a boon for these countries.
In India, for instance, such programmes could offset some of the antibiotic resistance creeping in through chicken in our diet, something that a recent Centre for Science and Environment study warns us of.
Source: The Financial Express