WHO highlights need for vaccine to prevent GBS

09 November 2021

Article: 55/4504

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have published a report revealing the global impact of Group B streptococcus (GBS), a common bacterium that can be transmitted in the womb, during birth, or in the early weeks of life. The report details the annual burden of GBS in numbers for the year 2020, including: 

  • 19,700,000 pregnant women colonised with GBS 
  • 518,000 GBS-associated preterm births 
  • 390,000 infant GBS cases 
  • 91,000 newborn deaths 
  • 46,000 plus stillbirths 
  • 40,000 infants living with neurological impairment following GBS-associated infections 

The report calls for the development of maternal vaccines against GBS to reduce this toll, emphasising they could be highly cost-effective, with significant health benefits, in all regions of the world.

Source: WHO, 2 November 2021