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Pertussis (whooping cough)

This work is part of the NIHR-funded MEMVIE project.

Pertussis is a highly infectious respiratory illness, caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Its main symptom is bouts of uncontrollable, violent coughing, giving it the nicknames "whooping cough" and "the hundred-day cough". It is particularly dangerous for infants, and can be fatal for newborn babies. A vaccination program has been in place in the UK for sometime now, the vaccine given along with those for tetanus and polio, as the DTP vaccine.

There was a large spike in the number of pertussis cases in 2012; it is thought that this was caused, at least in part, by a reduction in childhood vaccination in the 1970's after a vaccine scare over the possible side-effects of the vaccine. Following this a maternal vaccination scheme was implemented in 2012/13, to confer vertical immunity to newborn babies from the mother.

Early work by the MEMVIE team examined the likely impact and cost-effectiveness of additional "cocooning" strategies, where other household members are vaccinated to protect newborn infants. We have performed a cost-effectiveness analysis of this strategy, compared with the maternal vaccination program already in place, and shown that it offers limited benefit and is not cost-effective. This work has been presented to JCVI and a manuscript has been submitted to Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Associated publications
  1. Datta S, Pink J, Petrou S & Keeling, MJ. An economic evaluation of a cocooning strategy for pertussis vaccination in England and Wales. (Submitted)

A 6-year project funded by NIHR to provide advice to JCVI.

Researchers involved:


Matt Keeling (Professor, joint between Warwick Mathematics Institute and School of Life Sciences)


Stavros Petrou (Professor in Health Economics, Warwick Medical School)


Graham Medley (Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Sophie Staniszewska

Sophie Staniszewska (Leader of Patient and Public Involvement, Warwick Medical School)


Martin Underwood (Director of Clinical Trials Unit, Warwick Medical School)


Ed Hill (Postdoctoral researcher, Warwick Mathematics Institute)