Developing a mathematical model for the evaluation of the potential impact of a partially efficacious vaccine on the transmission dynamics of Schistosoma mansoni in human communities
BACKGROUND: There is currently no vaccine available to protect humans against infection with the schistosome digenean parasites, although candidate formulations for Schistosoma mansoni are under trial in animal models, including rodents and primates. Current strategies for the control of infection are based on mass drug administration (MDA) targeted at school-aged children of age 5 to 14 years. This approach is unlikely to eliminate exposure to infection except in settings with very low levels of transmission.
METHODS: A deterministic mathematical model for the transmission dynamics of the parasite is described and employed to investigate community level outcomes. The model is defined to encompass two different delivery strategies for the vaccination of the population, namely, infant (cohort) and mass vaccination. However, in this paper the focus is on vaccination delivered in a cohort immunisation programme where infants are immunised within the first year of life before acquiring infection. An analysis of the parasite's transmission dynamics following the administration of a partially protective vaccine is presented. The vaccine acts on parasite mortality, fecundity or/and establishment.
RESULTS: A vaccine with an efficacy of over 60% can interrupt transmission in low and moderate transmission settings. In higher transmission intensity areas, greater efficacy or higher infant vaccination coverage is required. Candidate vaccines that act either on parasite mortality, fecundity or establishment within the human host, can be similarly effective. In all cases, however, the duration of protection is important. The community level impact of vaccines with all modes of action, declines if vaccine protection is of a very short duration. However, durations of protection of 5-10 years or more are sufficient, with high coverage and efficacy levels, to halt transmission. The time taken to break transmission may be 18 years or more after the start of the cohort vaccination, depending on the intensity of the transmission in a defined location.
CONCLUSIONS: The analyses provide support for the proposition that even a partially efficacious vaccine could be of great value in reducing the burden of schistosome infections in endemic regions and hopefully could provide a template for the elimination of parasite transmission.