Background: Malaria control remains a challenge in many parts of the Sahel and sub-Sahel regions of Africa.
Methods: We conducted an individually randomized, controlled trial to assess whether seasonal vaccination with RTS,S/AS01E was noninferior to chemoprevention in preventing uncomplicated malaria and whether the two interventions combined were superior to either one alone in preventing uncomplicated malaria and severe malaria-related outcomes.
Results: We randomly assigned 6861 children 5 to 17 months of age to receive sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and amodiaquine (2287 children [chemoprevention-alone group]), RTS,S/AS01E (2288 children [vaccine-alone group]), or chemoprevention and RTS,S/AS01E (2286 children [combination group]). Of these, 1965, 1988, and 1967 children in the three groups, respectively, received the first dose of the assigned intervention and were followed for 3 years. Febrile seizure developed in 5 children the day after receipt of the vaccine, but the children recovered and had no sequelae. There were 305 events of uncomplicated clinical malaria per 1000 person-years at risk in the chemoprevention-alone group, 278 events per 1000 person-years in the vaccine-alone group, and 113 events per 1000 person-years in the combination group. The hazard ratio for the protective efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E as compared with chemoprevention was 0.92 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84 to 1.01), which excluded the prespecified noninferiority margin of 1.20. The protective efficacy of the combination as compared with chemoprevention alone was 62.8% (95% CI, 58.4 to 66.8) against clinical malaria, 70.5% (95% CI, 41.9 to 85.0) against hospital admission with severe malaria according to the World Health Organization definition, and 72.9% (95% CI, 2.9 to 92.4) against death from malaria. The protective efficacy of the combination as compared with the vaccine alone against these outcomes was 59.6% (95% CI, 54.7 to 64.0), 70.6% (95% CI, 42.3 to 85.0), and 75.3% (95% CI, 12.5 to 93.0), respectively.
Conclusions: Administration of RTS,S/AS01E was noninferior to chemoprevention in preventing uncomplicated malaria. The combination of these interventions resulted in a substantially lower incidence of uncomplicated malaria, severe malaria, and death from malaria than either intervention alone. (Funded by the Joint Global Health Trials and PATH; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT03143218.).