Volume 13 Supplement 1

Challenges in malaria research: Core science and innovation

Open Access

Drivers of differences in expected public health impact of RTS,S in individual countries of Africa: an individual-based modeling study

  • Melissa Penny1, 2,
  • Katya Galactionova1, 2 and
  • Thomas Smith1, 2
Malaria Journal201413(Suppl 1):P68


Published: 22 September 2014


RTS,S is a malaria vaccine directed at the pre-erythrocytic stage of Plasmodium falciparum, and is currently in late-stage Phase III clinical trials at multiple sites across Africa. Modeling and simulation have been used to predict the public health impact (PHI) of RTS,S but previous exercises had access to limited trial data and did not provide country-specific results. PHI is sensitive to many assumptions including vaccine profile and underlying country specific inputs.

Materials and methods

We simulated the numbers of cases and deaths averted by RTS,S if rolled out in each of 43 malaria endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Predictions were made for different transmission profiles, different levels of access to care for malaria cases, and four different immunisation schedules, with varying initial efficacies and decay rates of vaccine efficacy. Country-specific predictions were made via weighted averages over the database of predictions, with weights estimated from country-specific data. These included prevalence data from the Malaria Atlas Project, access to care from Demographic and Health Surveys, country level estimates of patient adherence and system compliance, immunization coverage from UN/WHO, and demographic projections from the UN. Sensitivity analysis was carried out to determine the robustness of the predictions of average impact and main drivers of uncertainty in these.

Results and conclusions

A pre-erythrocytic vaccine is unlikely to completely protect vaccinated individuals against malaria disease but overall PHI will probably compare favourably with that of other vaccines in routine programs. Currently only short follow up of RTS,S Phase III trial data is available and thus uncertainty in overall PHI remains mainly driven by uncertainty in the vaccine profile, especially in the rate of decay of the protective effects. There will be considerable variation between countries in PHI, with the main driver of this variation being the underlying levels of transmission and disease burden.

Authors’ Affiliations

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
University of Basel


© Penny et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


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