BACKGROUND: Prior studies have demonstrated hyporesponsiveness to pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) when administered in the presence of homologous carriage. This may be substantially more important in Africa where carriage prevalence is high. Deriving a correlate of protection (CoP) for carriage is important in guiding the future use of extended PCVs as population control of pneumococcal disease by vaccination is now focused principally on its indirect effect. We therefore explored the complex relationship between existing carriage and vaccine responsiveness, and between serum IgG levels and risk of acquisition. METHODS: We undertook secondary analyses of data from two previously published clinical trials of the safety and immunogenicity of PCV in Kenya. We compared responses to vaccination between serotype-specific carriers and non-carriers at vaccination. We assessed the risk of carriage acquisition in relation to PCV-induced serum IgG levels using either a step- or continuous-risk function. RESULTS: For newborns, the immune response among carriers was 51-82% lower than that among non-carriers, depending on serotype. Among toddlers, for serotypes 6B, 14 and 19F the post-vaccination response among carriers was lower by between 29 and 70%. The estimated CoP against acquisition ranged from 0.26 to 1.93μg/mL across serotypes, however, these thresholds could not be distinguished statistically from a model with constant probability of carriage independent of assay value. CONCLUSION: We have confirmed hyporesponsiveness in an equatorial African setting in both infants and toddlers. Population responses to vaccination are likely to improve with time as carriage prevalence of vaccine serotypes is reduced. We have not found clear correlates of protection against carriage acquisition among toddlers in this population. Assessing the potential of new vaccines through the use of CoP against carriage is still difficult as there are no clear-cut serotype specific correlates.
Ojal, J., Hammitt, L.L., Gaitho, J., Scott, J.A.G., Goldblatt, D.