Iconic buildings and monuments illuminated in blue for World Pneumonia Day

Famous buildings and monuments turned blue this month in a Pfizer-sponsored effort to raise pneumonia awareness. From Trafalgar Bridge in Australia to Niagara Falls in Canada, more than 250 well-known structures in 52 countries were lit up in a brilliant blue hue on Nov. 12.

Pfizer collaborated with the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and the Every Breath Counts Coalition to commemorate World Pneumonia Day and raise awareness around the problem of pneumonia.

The visual display is the start of PneumoLight, a five-year campaign to spread factual information about the disease. Catia Cillóniz, Ph.D., a medical researcher at the University of Barcelona's hospital clinic, personally sent 3,000 emails to mayors and directors of organizations around the world detailing information about pneumonia in order to persuade them to join the project and light the buildings or monuments blue.

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“The color blue represents medicine, air and health. I am a health worker and I have witnessed such high mortality at the beginning of the pandemic due to pneumonia caused by COVID-19. This motivated me a lot to make this project come true,” she said in an email interview. 

Even before COVID-19’s assault on people’s lungs, pneumonia was a huge problem for children and adults worldwide. More than 2.5 million people died from pneumonia in 2019, including 672,000 children and 1.2 million adults over the age of 70, according to the Global Burden of Disease project.

Pfizer has been working with Cillóniz on conferences for World Pneumonia Day since 2018, and this year the company provided funding for the organization of the virtual global conference.

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“There is a lot of work to do to make an impact on this disease. I would like people to understand that it can be prevented, that you have to get vaccinated and understand why we get vaccinated. Only by understanding all this will we achieve any impact regarding this disease," Cillóniz said.

Pfizer’s pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar 13, is the world’s bestselling vaccine, with sales of $5.85 billion last year. The company is getting closer to filing for the latest iteration, Prevnar 20, which will compete with investigational Merck rival V114, a 15-valent shot.