Contribution of vaccination to improved survival and health: modelling 50 years of the Expanded Programme on Immunization

Andrew J. Shattock, Helen C. Johnson, So Yoon Sim, Austin Carter, Philipp Lambach, Raymond C.W. Hutubessy, Kimberly M. Thompson, Kamran Badizadegan, Brian Lambert, Matthew J. Ferrari, Mark Jit, Han Fu, Sheetal P. Silal, Rachel A. Hounsell, Richard G. White, Jonathan F. Mosser, Katy A.M. Gaythorpe, Caroline L. Trotter, Ann Lindstrand, Katherine L. O'BrienNaor Bar-Zeev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: WHO, as requested by its member states, launched the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in 1974 to make life-saving vaccines available to all globally. To mark the 50-year anniversary of EPI, we sought to quantify the public health impact of vaccination globally since the programme's inception. Methods: In this modelling study, we used a suite of mathematical and statistical models to estimate the global and regional public health impact of 50 years of vaccination against 14 pathogens in EPI. For the modelled pathogens, we considered coverage of all routine and supplementary vaccines delivered since 1974 and estimated the mortality and morbidity averted for each age cohort relative to a hypothetical scenario of no historical vaccination. We then used these modelled outcomes to estimate the contribution of vaccination to globally declining infant and child mortality rates over this period. Findings: Since 1974, vaccination has averted 154 million deaths, including 146 million among children younger than 5 years of whom 101 million were infants younger than 1 year. For every death averted, 66 years of full health were gained on average, translating to 10·2 billion years of full health gained. We estimate that vaccination has accounted for 40% of the observed decline in global infant mortality, 52% in the African region. In 2024, a child younger than 10 years is 40% more likely to survive to their next birthday relative to a hypothetical scenario of no historical vaccination. Increased survival probability is observed even well into late adulthood. Interpretation: Since 1974 substantial gains in childhood survival have occurred in every global region. We estimate that EPI has provided the single greatest contribution to improved infant survival over the past 50 years. In the context of strengthening primary health care, our results show that equitable universal access to immunisation remains crucial to sustain health gains and continue to save future lives from preventable infectious mortality. Funding: WHO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2307-2316
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10441
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2024


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