The Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW) has embarked on a research study called Pneumococcal Carriage in Vulnerable Populations in Africa (PCVPA) to improve pneumonia vaccines for Malawi and other African nations.
The study has been approved by the College of Medicine Research Ethics Committee (Comrec) of the University of Malawi (Unima).
MLW clinical research programme science communication manager Rodrick Sambakunsi said in a statement on Monday the pneumonia vaccine, called PCV13, has been given to newborns in Malawi since 2011.
He said the vaccine prevents diseases caused by a germ called the pneumococcus found in noses of many healthy people without causing any problem, but causing pneumonia and meningitis in small number of people.
He said over the next four years, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), the PCVPA study team will be collecting samples from the nose to detect the pneumonia germ from healthy school children aged between five and 10 years who have not had the PCV13 vaccine; and children between three and four years of age in urban Blantyre who have received the vaccine; and adults with HIV.
Dr. Thandie Mwalukomo, the study’s principal investigator, said the result of the research will inform both national and international vaccine policy as the project itself addresses a disease that continues to kill thousands of children and adults in Malawi despite the availability of antibiotics.