Population immunity to pneumococcal serotypes in Kilifi, Kenya, before and 6 years after the introduction of PCV10 with a catch-up campaign: an observational study of cross-sectional serosurveys

Gallagher KE, Adetifa IMO, Mburu C, Bottomley C, Akech D, Karani A, Pearce E, Wang Y, Kagucia EW, Goldblatt D, Hammitt LL, Scott JAG
Lancet Infect Dis. 2023;S1473-3099

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BACKGROUND: In Kilifi (Kenya), a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) was introduced in 2011 in infants (aged <1 year, 3 + 0 schedule) with a catch-up campaign in children aged 1-4 years. We aimed to measure the effect of PCV10 on population immunity. METHODS: In this observational study, repeated cross-sectional serosurveys were conducted in independent random samples of 500 children younger than 15 years every 2 years between 2009 and 2017. During these surveys, blood samples were collected by venesection. Concentrations of anti-capsular IgGs against vaccine serotypes (VTs) 1, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F, and against serotypes 6A and 19A, were assayed by ELISA. We plotted the geometric mean concentrations (GMCs) by birth year to visualise age-specific antibody profiles. In infants, IgG concentrations of 0·35 μg/mL or higher were considered protective. FINDINGS: Of 3673 volunteers approached, 2152 submitted samples for analysis across the five surveys. Vaccine introduction resulted in an increase in the proportion of young children with protective IgG concentrations, compared with before vaccine introduction (from 0-33% of infants with VT-specific levels over the correlate of protection in 2009, to 60-94% of infants in 2011). However, among those vaccinated in infancy, GMCs of all ten VTs had waned rapidly by the age of 1, but rose again later in childhood. GMCs among children aged 10-14 years were consistently high over time (eg, the range of GMCs across survey rounds were between 0·45 μg/mL and 1·00 μg/mL for VT 23F and between 2·00 μg/mL and 3·11 μg/mL for VT 19F). INTERPRETATION: PCV10 in a 3 + 0 schedule elicited protective IgG levels during infancy, when disease risk is high. The high antibody levels in children aged 10-14 years might indicate continued exposure to vaccine serotypes due to residual carriage or to memory responses to cross-reactive antigens. Despite rapid waning of IgG after vaccination, disease incidence among young children in this setting remains low, suggesting that lower thresholds of antibody, or other markers of immunity (eg, memory B cells), may be needed to assess population protection among children who have aged past infancy. FUNDING: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Wellcome Trust.