Methods: The phase III trial is a randomized, controlled, multicentre, participant- and observer-blind study on-going in 11 centres associated with different malaria transmission settings in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa. A minimum of 6,000 children in each of two age categories (6-12 weeks, 5-17 months) have been enrolled. Children were randomized 1:1:1 to one of three study groups: (1) primary vaccination with RTS,S/AS01 and booster dose of RTS,S/AS01; (2) primary vaccination with RTS,S/AS01 and a control vaccine at time of booster; (3) primary vaccination with control vaccine and a control vaccine at time of booster. Primary vaccination comprises three doses at monthly intervals; the booster dose is administered at 18 months post-primary course. Subjects will be followed to study month 32. The co-primary objectives are the evaluation of efficacy over one year post-dose 3 against clinical malaria when primary immunization is delivered at: (1) 6-12 weeks of age, with co-administration of DTPwHepB/Hib antigens and OPV; (2) 5-17 months of age. Secondary objectives include evaluation of vaccine efficacy against severe malaria, anaemia, malaria hospitalization, fatal malaria, all-cause mortality and other serious illnesses including sepsis and pneumonia. Efficacy of the vaccine against clinical malaria under different transmission settings, the evolution of efficacy over time and the potential benefit of a booster will be evaluated. In addition, the effect of RTS,S/AS01 vaccination on growth, and the safety and immunogenicity in HIV-infected and malnourished children will be assessed. Safety of the primary course of immunization and the booster dose will be documented in both age categories.
Conclusions: This pivotal phase III study of the RTS,S/AS01 candidate malaria vaccine in African children was designed and implemented by the Clinical Trials Partnership Committee. The study will provide efficacy and safety data to fulfil regulatory requirements, together with data on a broad range of endpoints that will facilitate the evaluation of the public health impact of the vaccine and will aid policy and implementation decisions.