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© Dale Crosby Close for Mosaic


© Dale Crosby Close for Mosaic

A lot of research goes into our stories. Here are some of the resources we used to put together our story on why we don’t yet have a strep A vaccine.

In high-income countries, serious strep A-related illnesses have virtually disappeared. But the bacteria still hit hard in the low-income world, killing over 500,000 people each year. Over half of these succumb to rheumatic heart disease, caused by repeated and untreated strep A infections. A vaccine would be an excellent tool for battling this disease.

Challenge yourself to dive deeper into this topic with videos, news articles and (if you’re up to it) some academic papers that explore why a strep A vaccine is not yet available. Is there anything science can do to speed up making one?

Strep A bacteria kill half a million a year. Why don’t we have a vaccine?

Strep A is among the deadliest pathogens in the world – yet we’ve never prioritised making a vaccine.


This video by Wired explains how strep throat can lead to rheumatic heart disease.

This film from Emergency, a humanitarian NGO, tells the story of Rwandan children with rheumatic heart disease receiving heart surgery.

In the news

This article outlines how Stanford Medicine and India Biodesign are working together to tackle rheumatic heart disease in India.

Allison Webel and Andrew Chang talk about the stigma of living with heart disease in sub-Saharan Africa in this article for the Conversation.

The Daily Monitor, one of Uganda’s leading newspapers, reports here on 150 children with rheumatic heart disease receiving free surgery at the Uganda Heart Institute.  

Denis Grady reports for the New York Times on how rheumatic heart disease is affecting millions of young people in Africa.

Academic writing

This 2017 summary gives an overview of recent scientific discoveries on the prevention and control of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in African countries.

This 2016 article outlines the status of research and development for strep A vaccines.

This 2016 overview shows the approaches being taken in strep A vaccine development.

This 2017 article looks at the global, regional and national burden of rheumatic heart disease from 1990 to 2015.

More from Mosaic

This article by Gaia Vince offers insight into how Streptococcus’s genetics can influence how the bacteria respond to vaccines.

In ‘Hungary’s cold war with polio’, Penny Bailey explores another example of how economic differences have impacted who has access to a vaccine.

In this interview, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi discusses hopes for an HIV vaccine.

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