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"New vaccine sparing kids, seniors from strep ills"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 08 Nov 2021

Category: Other

Rating: (1½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

A new childhood vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae -- a bacterial infection that is a major cause of earaches, pneumonia and meningitis -- has dramatically cut these illnesses and may help reduce deaths from the flu , too, a new Canadian study shows.

The research, published in today's edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, shows infections plummeted more than 80 per cent in children under 2 in the two years since the vaccine, sold under the brand name Prevnar, was offered free in Alberta. Just as impressively, infections with key strains of the bacteria dropped by more than 60 per cent among people over 65, a much larger than anticipated spillover effect....

The original article can be found at:

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how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 2 of 9
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Applicable
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This article refers to a just-published Canadian study, carried out in Alberta, which examines a new vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease. There appears to have been a significant drop in the incidence of pneumococcal disease (particularly in the early and late age groups) over the time period in question, and it is likely related to the vaccine.

However, a clear and balanced description of the benefits (apparent), harms (low) and costs (high) is not adequately provided in the article. What is particularly disappointing is the lack of proper quantification of the benefits of the treatment, relying only on relative numbers which can sometimes be misleading. As well, no harms related to the vaccine were reported, a relatively important piece of information which parents would need before proceeding to vaccinate their children for this disease.

As pointed out by the authors of this company-sponsored trial, "...ongoing surveillance is needed to determine the long-term direct and indirect effects of PCV7 and PPV23 in the prevention of pneumococcal infection..." This should have been articulated in the article.

Other aspects of this piece that could have merited a mention were details on the availability of treatment in Canada (and if it is covered by provincial drug plans), and the cost of the treatment. A study such as this which is funded by a manufacturer should include a potential confilct of interest statement concerning the researcher's financial ties to the manufacturer.

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