Introduction: The RTS,S/AS01 pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine is in phase III clinical trials. It is critical to anticipate where and how it should be implemented if trials are successful. Such planning may be complicated by changing levels of malaria transmission. Methods/results: Computer simulations were used to examine RTS,S/AS01 impact, using a vaccine profile based on phase II trial results, and assuming that protection decays only slowly. Settings were simulated in which baseline transmission (in the absence of vaccine) was fixed or varied between 2 and 20 infectious mosquito bites per person per annum (ibpa) over ten years. Four delivery strategies were studied: routine infant immunization (EPI), EPI plus infant catch-up, EPI plus school-based campaigns, and EPI plus mass campaigns. Impacts in changing transmission settings were similar to those in fixed settings. Assuming a persistent effect of vaccination, at 2 ibpa, the vaccine averted approximately 5-7 deaths per 1000 doses of vaccine when delivered via mass campaigns, but the benefit was less at higher transmission levels. EPI, catch-up and school-based strategies averted 2-3 deaths per 1000 doses in settings with 2 ibpa. In settings where transmission was decreasing or increasing, EPI, catch-up and school-based strategies averted approximately 3-4 deaths per 1000 doses. Discussion: Where transmission is changing, it appears to be sufficient to consider simulations of pre-erythrocytic vaccine impact at a range of initial transmission levels. At 2 ibpa, mass campaigns averted the most deaths and reduced transmission, but this requires further study. If delivered via EPI, RTS,S/AS01 could avert approximately 6-11 deaths per 1000 vaccinees in all examined settings, similar to estimates for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in African infants. These results support RTS,S/AS01 implementation via EPI, for example alongside vector control interventions, providing that the phase III trials provide support for our assumptions about efficacy. © 2012 Brooks et al.
Brooks, A., Briët, O. J. T., Hardy, D., Steketee, R., & Smith, T. A. (2012). Simulated impact of RTS,S/AS01 vaccination programs in the context of changing malaria transmission. PLoS ONE, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032587