Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Potential Impact of Vaccination on the Prevalence of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide, can lead to serious sequelae, including infertility and increased HIV transmission. 

Recently, untreatable, multidrug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains have been reported. In the absence of new antibiotics, and given the speed with which resistance has emerged to all previously used antibiotics, development of a vaccine would be the ideal solution to this public health emergency. 

Understanding the desired characteristics, target population, and expected impact of an anti-gonococcal vaccine is essential to facilitate vaccine design, assessment and implementation. The modeling presented herein aims to fill these conceptual gaps, and inform future gonococcal vaccine development. 

Using an individual-based, epidemiological simulation model, gonococcal prevalence was simulated in a heterosexual population of 100,000 individuals after the introduction of vaccines with varied efficacy (10–100%) and duration of protection (2.5–20 years). Model simulations predict that gonococcal prevalence could be reduced by at least 90% after 20 years, if all 13-year-olds were given a non-waning vaccine with 50% efficacy, or a vaccine with 100% efficacy that wanes after 7.5 years. A 40% reduction in prevalence is achievable with a non-waning vaccine of only 20% efficacy. 

We conclude that a vaccine of moderate efficacy and duration could have a substantive impact on gonococcal prevalence, and disease sequelae, if coverage is high and protection lasts over the highest risk period (i.e., most sexual partner change) among young people.

Below:  The prevalence of gonorrhea in the absence of a vaccine, and with (A) vaccines of differing efficacies and 20 years duration of protection, or (B) vaccines with 100% efficacy and of differing durations of protection. Vaccine coverage is 100% of 13-year-olds.

Below:  The prevalence of gonorrhea in the absence of a vaccine, and with different rates and types of vaccine coverage. (A) Vaccines have 100% efficacy and 20 years duration. (B) Vaccines have 50% efficacy and 20 years duration.

a The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney 2052, NSW, Australia
b Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and The Ohio State University Department of Pediatrics, Columbus, OH, USA
c Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
d Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, Southport, QLD, Australia
#Contributed equally.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 755527453; fax: +61 7 5552 8098.  ua.ude.htiffirg@bies.k (K.L. Seib).

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