World Pneumonia Day 2014

World Pneumonia Day 2014

12 November 2014

The most common cause of pneumonia is the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, which kills an estimated 1.1 million children under 5 in the world each year [1]. However, these same bacteria can also travel through the blood to the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis. In working to tackle these pneumococcal bacteria, scientists are helping to potentially reduce the incidence of many different types of infection, including both pneumonia and meningitis.

We have invested over £1.5M specifically into pneumococcal meningitis research in the past 25 years. This has included research around particular outcomes such as hearing loss, as well as the assessment of existing vaccines and the development of new ones.

Between 2001 and 2004, researchers led by Dr Richard Malley at Boston Children’s Hospital were funded by MRF to investigate a new pneumococcal vaccine’s potential in the lab. The whole cell vaccine (WCV) is based on a technique where a particular strain of pneumococcus (containing most of the known virulence factors) is grown to high concentration and is then killed and inactivated before being made into a vaccine for injection.

One of the main theoretical advantages of this vaccine over existing pneumococcal vaccines is the broad protection it has shown against a much wider range of strains, whereas current vaccines only cover certain strains. Furthermore, laboratory data suggest that this vaccine may not only have a role in preventing disease due to pneumococcus, but also reduce pneumococcal carriage in the nasopharynx, and therefore lead to herd protection. Finally, the vaccine is very simple and inexpensive to produce, offering many advantages for production and use in the developing world, where pneumococcal disease is a big killer.

Dr Malley said “Although an important aspect of our research has been the development of vaccines for the developing world, we also believe that the work that has been generously supported by the MRF will also benefit children worldwide, as it has taught us new ways to combat this important threat to child health. It is our hope that the insights we gain and the vaccine that will be developed as a result of this work will bring us closer to eliminating pneumococcal disease worldwide.”

You can find out more about the outcomes of this research on the project page.

You can help fund some of our current research looking at all types of childhood meningitis in the UK including pneumococcal meningitis, by entering your own fundraising event or clicking the donate button on this page.

WHO. Pneumonia factsheet. 2013  [cited 2014 11.11.2014];Available from:

Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me