Lassa Epidemiological Programme: Overview

Background
CEPI is funding the development of multiple Lassa fever vaccine candidates. A crucial step to assess the feasibility and prepare for potential future Lassa fever vaccine efficacy trials, in terms of location and sample size, is to gather epidemiological data on the background rates of infection and disease due to Lassa fever virus (LASV) in endemic areas. These data are urgently needed because the incidence and spatial distribution of Lassa fever is likely to be significantly underestimated based on existing data, due to gaps in diagnostics, surveillance, and access to health services.

CEPI and collaborators are implementing a prospective multisite cohort study commencing in Q3-4 2020. Data collection will run for 24 months and provide incidence estimates of infection and disease due to LASV in five West African countries (Benin, Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone). This will help to inform the design of future vaccine trials. Conduct of this study, which will include 23,000 subjects, will also help to strengthen site and investigator capacity to conduct vaccine trials, as well as to address several gaps identified in the World Health Organization (WHO) Lassa Fever Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap.

Essential documents

1. Workshop reports:

   a) Workshop report: Preparing for Lassa vaccine clinical trials with targeted epidemiology studies | 8th and 9th November 2018, Accra, Ghana. Our first workshop, which involved potential partners in West Africa as well as international experts and stakeholders, aimed to identify Lassa data needs and study objectives as well as discussion opportunities for collaboration. These discussions provided the basis for the development of a harmonized core protocol.

   b) Meeting brief: Lassa International Conference (LIC) | 15 – 19 Jan 2019, Abuja, Nigeria. The LIC, hosted by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, was an opportunity to reflect on advances in research since the discovery of Lassa and to describe gaps and priorities for future research. CEPI also held a side-meeting with the Lassa epidemiology program PIs to progress protocol development and obtain key feedback.

   C) Workshop Report: Launching Lassa fever epidemiology studies across West Africa | 8th and 9th of October 2019, Accra, Ghana. This workshop was the final meeting of the Lassa epidemiology programme implementing partners ahead of the  core protocol finalisation. The workshop discussion focused on finalising key technical details, reviewing study launch plans, and sharing best practices and experiences.

2. Lassa fever generic protocol: Prospective multisite cohort study to estimate incidence of infection and disease due to Lassa fever virus in West African countries.