Vaccines: A Cost-Effective Strategy to Contain Antimicrobial Resistance



There is rapid spread of infectious disease globally. Emergence of antimicrobial resistance has made it difficult to contain the spread and the associated escalating costs of treatment. Rational use of antibiotics and an effective infection control strategy in health-care facilities can reduce the growing spread of infectious disease dramatically but these are often not possible in developing countries due to overburdened health-care structure. Nevertheless the infectious disease has to be contained.

The immune system in the human body is responsible for protection against disease. Once vaccines are introduced into the body they mimic natural infection and stimulate immune responses, which are directed to act against invading organisms. The protection thus conferred is often long lasting. Most vaccines act in this way against acute infections. Advanced molecular techniques can also be used to produce vaccines against pathogens causing chronic infections.

The success of the smallpox vaccine has been a history-making event and the World Health Organization’s Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) has become a hallmark of disease containment with a bare minimum cost of $2 per person against six major infectious diseases. There is evidence from an US study that a savings of $53.2 billion can be met by immunizing children of a specific year birth cohort while the expenditure for the vaccination programme will only be $5.1 billion in terms of direct and indirect (societal) costs. Success stories have also been recorded with vaccines against invasive pneumococcal and Hib diseases and that of yellow fever in terms of lives saved.

Vaccine and antibiotics are not competitors but are equally important for the containment of the infectious disease. Antibiotic is a rescue measure while the vaccine can be seen as a long-term remedy. The ultimate goal is to reduce disease burden and the use of antibiotics. An effective vaccine can almost stand-alone as a cost-effective containment strategy against antimicrobial resistance and should augment the fight against infection in a cost-effective way.


Yellow Fever Pneumococcal Disease Meningococcal Disease Measle Vaccine Polio Eradication 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Research Council Laboratories (UK)BanjulWest Africa

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