Research Highlight

Vaccines could reduce antibiotic use in children

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.79 Published online 1 May 2020

Pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, designed to protect against acute respiratory illness (ARI) and diarrhoea, have the potential to reduce episodes of antibiotic use in children in low- and middle-income countries, an international research team has found1.  

The researchers say the study supports ptioritisinf childhood vaccines as part of a global strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Previous studies have predicted that vaccines might help avert AMR by preventing infections that are treated with antibiotics. Few studies, however, explored the effects of vaccines on antibiotic use.

To find out, the scientists, including an Indian researcher from the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in New Delhi, estimated the impact of the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines on antibiotic use in children under five years of age. They analysed data from household surveys covering 944,173 children across 77 countries from 2006 to 2018.

The researchers found that both vaccines reduce antibiotic consumption among children. Vaccinated children had lower chances of getting antibiotic treatment for respiratory and diarrhoeal infections compared with unvaccinated ones, they report.

The vaccines, the researchers estimate, prevent more than 37 million episodes of antibiotic use among children every year. In the absence of these vaccines, the pathogens would cause more than 100 million episodes of antibiotic-treated respiratory illness and diarrhoea.

The researchers say that such vaccines may even prevent an additional 40 million episodes of antibiotic-treated illnesses. 





1. Lewnard, J. A. et al. Childhood vaccines and antibiotic use in low- and middle-income countries. Nature (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2238-4