GlaxoSmithKline's Synflorix has been chosen to help protect millions of children in Pakistan from pneumococcal disease, in the world's largest mass vaccination programme against the illness.

Pneumococcal disease is a huge global burden, killing 27,000 children a year in Pakistan alone, and it is thought that Synflorix will help protect 4.8 million in the country from contracting the disease. 

Pakistan is the first nation in South Asia to receive pneumococcal vaccines in the Expanded Programme of immunisation, a World Health Organisation-initiated scheme.   Its introduction in the country has been made possible by GAVI's (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) novel financing mechanism, called the Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

The AMC is designed to bring heavily discounted vaccines to children living in the poorest countries around the globe, through contracting significant volumes over the long-term to allow manufacturers to "significantly reduce the cost of their vaccines”, according to GAVI.

Indeed, GSK said it is providing its vaccine at a 90% discount under the AMC initiative.

Pneumococcal vaccines are expected to reach more than 50-GAVI supported countries by 2015. 

Kenya was the first GAVI-eligible country to introduce Synflorix, followed by Ethiopia in 2011, and later this year, GSK's jab will be available in Madagascar and Zambia under the AMC framework, it said.