Evaluating the Cost-Effectiveness of Maternal Pertussis Immunization in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Review of Lessons Learnt

Abstract [from journal]

This issue of Vaccine is devoted to papers from a research project that developed two types of simulation models, static and dynamic transmission, to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of maternal immunization to prevent pertussis in infants in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The research was conducted by a multinational team of investigators and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to gain an understanding of when and where maternal immunization might be a good public health investment for LMICs. Here we review the project’s central lessons for vaccine policy and research. Models require a lot of data. As most LMICs lack good data, the models were built using pertussis disease burden data from Brazil, a middle-income country with three long-established, independent information systems (disease surveillance, hospitalization, and mortality), on the hypothesis that the disease process is similar across countries. Values for key parameters, particularly infant mortality, infant vaccine coverage, and costs of vaccination and treatment, were then varied to represent other LMICs. The results show that coverage levels of infant whole cell pertussis (wP) vaccine are key to the cost-effectiveness of maternal pertussis immunization. In settings where infant wP coverage is below the threshold thought necessary to eliminate pertussis in the population, 90–95%, maternal immunization is cost-effective, even cost-saving. By contrast, it is very expensive in countries capable of maintaining infant vaccination in or above the threshold range. The research also suggests that, while static models may serve to explore an intervention’s cost-effectiveness initially, dynamic transmission models are essential for more accurate estimates. These findings can help guide policies toward maternal pertussis immunization, but also show that developing better data on neonatal pertussis mortality burden and infant vaccine coverage in LMICs, and on the duration of immunity of currently available pertussis vaccines, are key priorities to support better vaccine policy.