Imperial College London

ProfessorThomasChurcher

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 3265thomas.churcher

 
 
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Location

 

G35Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
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126 results found

Gansané A, Candrinho B, Mbituyumuremyi A, Uhomoibhi P, NFalé S, Mohammed AB, Guelbeogo WM, Sanou A, Kangoye D, Debe S, Kagone M, Hakizimana E, Uwimana A, Tuyishime A, Ingabire CM, Singirankabo JH, Koenker H, Marrenjo D, Abilio AP, Salvador C, Savaio B, Okoko OO, Maikore I, Obi E, Awolola ST, Adeogun A, Babarinde D, Ali O, Guglielmo F, Yukich J, Scates S, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher T, Fornadel C, Shannon J, Kawakyu N, Beylerian E, Digre P, Tynuv K, Gogue C, Mwesigwa J, Wagman J, Adeleke M, Adeolu AT, Robertson Met al., 2022, Design and methods for a quasi-experimental pilot study to evaluate the impact of dual active ingredient insecticide-treated nets on malaria burden in five regions in sub-Saharan Africa, Malaria Journal, Vol: 21, Pages: 1-20, ISSN: 1475-2875

BackgroundVector control tools have contributed significantly to a reduction in malaria burden since 2000, primarily through insecticidal-treated bed nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying. In the face of increasing insecticide resistance in key malaria vector species, global progress in malaria control has stalled. Innovative tools, such as dual active ingredient (dual-AI) ITNs that are effective at killing insecticide-resistant mosquitoes have recently been introduced. However, large-scale uptake has been slow for several reasons, including higher costs and limited evidence on their incremental effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. The present report describes the design of several observational studies aimed to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of dual-AI ITNs, compared to standard pyrethroid-only ITNs, at reducing malaria transmission across a variety of transmission settings.MethodsObservational pilot studies are ongoing in Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Rwanda, leveraging dual-AI ITN rollouts nested within the 2019 and 2020 mass distribution campaigns in each country. Enhanced surveillance occurring in select study districts include annual cross-sectional surveys during peak transmission seasons, monthly entomological surveillance, passive case detection using routine health facility surveillance systems, and studies on human behaviour and ITN use patterns. Data will compare changes in malaria transmission and disease burden in districts receiving dual-AI ITNs to similar districts receiving standard pyrethroid-only ITNs over three years. The costs of net distribution will be calculated using the provider perspective including financial and economic costs, and a cost-effectiveness analysis will assess incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for Interceptor® G2, Royal Guard®, and piperonyl butoxide ITNs in comparison to standard pyrethroid-only ITNs, based on incidence rate ratios calculated from routine data.ConclusionsEvidence

Journal article

Some BM, Da DF, McCabe R, Djegbe NDC, Pare LIG, Werme K, Mouline K, Lefevre T, Ouedraogo AG, Churcher TS, Dabire RKet al., 2022, Adapting field-mosquito collection techniques in a perspective of near-infrared spectroscopy implementation, PARASITES & VECTORS, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1756-3305

Journal article

Gray L, Asay BC, Hephaestus B, McCabe R, Pugh G, Markle ED, Churcher TS, Foy BDet al., 2022, Back to the Future: Quantifying Wing Wear as a Method to Measure Mosquito Age., Am J Trop Med Hyg

Vector biologists have long sought the ability to accurately quantify the age of wild mosquito populations, a metric used to measure vector control efficiency. This has proven difficult due to the difficulties of working in the field and the biological complexities of wild mosquitoes. Ideal age grading techniques must overcome both challenges while also providing epidemiologically relevant age measurements. Given these requirements, the Detinova parity technique, which estimates age from the mosquito ovary and tracheole skein morphology, has been most often used for mosquito age grading despite significant limitations, including being based solely on the physiology of ovarian development. Here, we have developed a modernized version of the original mosquito aging method that evaluated wing wear, expanding it to estimate mosquito chronological age from wing scale loss. We conducted laboratory experiments using adult Anopheles gambiae held in insectary cages or mesocosms, the latter of which also featured ivermectin bloodmeal treatments to change the population age structure. Mosquitoes were age graded by parity assessments and both human- and computational-based wing evaluations. Although the Detinova technique was not able to detect differences in age population structure between treated and control mesocosms, significant differences were apparent using the wing scale technique. Analysis of wing images using averaged left- and right-wing pixel intensity scores predicted mosquito age at high accuracy (overall test accuracy: 83.4%, average training accuracy: 89.7%). This suggests that this technique could be an accurate and practical tool for mosquito age grading though further evaluation in wild mosquito populations is required.

Journal article

Sherrard-Smith E, Ngufor C, Sanou A, Guelbeogo M, NGuessan R, Elobolobo E, Saute F, Varela K, Chaccour C, Zulliger R, Wagman J, Robertson ML, Rowland M, Donnelly M, Gonahasa S, Staedke S, Kolaczinski J, Churcher Tet al., 2022, Inferring the epidemiological benefit of indoor vector control interventions against malaria from mosquito data, Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

The cause of malaria transmission has been known for over a century but it is still unclear whether entomological measures are sufficiently reliable to inform policy decisions in human health. Decision-making on the effectiveness of new insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and the indoor residual spraying of insecticide (IRS) have been based on epidemiological data, typically collected in cluster-randomised control trials. The number of these trials that can be conducted is limited. Here we use a systematic review to highlight that efficacy estimates of the same intervention may vary substantially between trials. Analyses indicate that mosquito data collected in experimental hut trials can be used to parameterize mechanistic models for Plasmodium falciparum malaria and reliably predict the epidemiological efficacy of quick-acting, neuro-acting ITNs and IRS. Results suggest that for certain types of ITNs and IRS using this framework instead of clinical endpoints could support policy and expedite the widespread use of novel technologies.

Journal article

Hamlet A, Dengela D, Tongren JE, Tadesse FG, Bousema T, Sinka M, Seyoum A, Irish SR, Armistead JS, Churcher Tet al., 2022, The potential impact of Anopheles stephensi establishment on the transmission of Plasmodium falciparum in Ethiopia and prospective control measures, BMC Medicine, Vol: 20, ISSN: 1741-7015

BackgroundSub-Saharan Africa has seen substantial reductions in cases and deaths due to malaria over the past two decades. While this reduction is primarily due to an increasing expansion of interventions, urbanisation has played its part as urban areas typically experience substantially less malaria transmission than rural areas. However, this may be partially lost with the invasion and establishment of Anopheles stephensi. An. stephensi, the primary urban malaria vector in Asia, was first detected in Africa during 2012 in Djibouti and was subsequently identified in Ethiopia in 2016, and later in Sudan and Somalia. In Djibouti, malaria cases have increased 30-fold from 2012 to 2019 though the impact in the wider region remains unclear.MethodsHere we have adapted an existing model of mechanistic malaria transmission to estimate the increase in vector density required to explain the trends in malaria cases seen in Djibouti. To account for the observed plasticity in An. stephensi behaviour, and the unknowns of how it will establish in a novel environment, we sample behavioural parameters in order to account for a wide range of uncertainty. This quantification is then applied to Ethiopia, considering temperature-dependent extrinsic incubation periods, pre-existing vector-control interventions and Plasmodium falciparum prevalence in order to assess the potential impact of An. stephensi establishment on P. falciparum transmission. Following this, we estimate the potential impact of scaling up ITN (insecticide treated nets)/IRS (indoor residual spraying) and implementing piperonyl butoxide (PBO) ITNs and larval source management,, as well as their economic costs.ResultsWe estimate that annual P. falciparum malaria cases could increase by 50% (95% CI 14-90) if no additional interventions are implemented. The implementation of sufficient control measures to reduce malaria transmission to pre-stephensi levels will cost hundreds of millions of USD. ConclusionsSubstantial hete

Journal article

Green N, Agossa F, Yovogan B, Oxborough R, Kitau J, Müller P, Constant E, Rowland M, Tchacaya EFS, Benjamin KG, Churcher TS, Betancourt M, Sherrard-Smith Eet al., 2022, An evidence synthesis approach for combining different data sources illustrated using entomological efficacy of insecticides for indoor residual spraying, PLoS One, Vol: 17, Pages: e0263446-e0263446, ISSN: 1932-6203

BackgroundProspective malaria public health interventions are initially tested for entomological impact using standardised experimental hut trials. In some cases, data are collated as aggregated counts of potential outcomes from mosquito feeding attempts given the presence of an insecticidal intervention. Comprehensive data i.e. full breakdowns of probable outcomes of mosquito feeding attempts, are more rarely available. Bayesian evidence synthesis is a framework that explicitly combines data sources to enable the joint estimation of parameters and their uncertainties. The aggregated and comprehensive data can be combined using an evidence synthesis approach to enhance our inference about the potential impact of vector control products across different settings over time.MethodsAggregated and comprehensive data from a meta-analysis of the impact of Pirimiphos-methyl, an indoor residual spray (IRS) product active ingredient, used on wall surfaces to kill mosquitoes and reduce malaria transmission, were analysed using a series of statistical models to understand the benefits and limitations of each.ResultsMany more data are available in aggregated format (N = 23 datasets, 4 studies) relative to comprehensive format (N = 2 datasets, 1 study). The evidence synthesis model had the smallest uncertainty at predicting the probability of mosquitoes dying or surviving and blood-feeding. Generating odds ratios from the correlated Bernoulli random sample indicates that when mortality and blood-feeding are positively correlated, as exhibited in our data, the number of successfully fed mosquitoes will be under-estimated. Analysis of either dataset alone is problematic because aggregated data require an assumption of independence and there are few and variable data in the comprehensive format.ConclusionsWe developed an approach to combine sources from trials to maximise the inference that can be made from such data and that is applicable to other systems. Bayesian evidence synthes

Journal article

Martin JL, Messenger LA, Mosha FW, Lukole E, Mosha JF, Kulkarni M, Churcher TS, Sherrard-Smith E, Manjurano A, Protopopoff N, Rowland Met al., 2022, Durability of three types of dual active ingredient long-lasting insecticidal net compared to a pyrethroid-only LLIN in Tanzania: methodology for a prospective cohort study nested in a cluster randomized controlled trial., Malaria Journal, Vol: 21, Pages: 96-96, ISSN: 1475-2875

BACKGROUND: Progress achieved by long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) against malaria is threatened by widespread selection of pyrethroid resistance among vector populations. LLINs with non-pyrethroid insecticides are urgently needed. This study aims to assess the insecticide and textile durability of three classes of dual-active ingredient (A.I.) LLINs using techniques derived from established WHO LLIN testing methods to set new standards of evaluation. METHODS: A WHO Phase 3 active ingredients and textile durability study will be carried out within a cluster randomized controlled trial in 40 clusters in Misungwi district, Tanzania. The following treatments will be evaluated: (1) Interceptor®G2 combining chlorfenapyr and the pyrethroid alpha-cypermethrin, (2) Royal Guard® treated with pyriproxyfen and alpha-cypermethrin, (3) Olyset™ Plus which incorporates a synergist piperonyl butoxide and the pyrethroid permethrin, and (4) a reference standard alpha-cypermethrin only LLIN (Interceptor®). 750 nets will be followed in 5 clusters per intervention arm at 6, 12, 24 and 36 months post distribution for survivorship and hole index assessment. A second cohort of 1950 nets per net type will be identified in 10 clusters, of which 30 LLINs will be withdrawn for bio-efficacy and chemical analysis every 6 months up to 36 months and another 30 collected for experimental hut trials every year. Bio-efficacy will be assessed using cone bioassays and tunnel tests against susceptible and resistant laboratory strains of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto. Efficacy of field-collected nets will be compared in six experimental huts. The main outcomes will be Anopheles mortality up to 72 h post exposure, blood feeding and egg maturation using ovary dissection to assess impact on fecundity. CONCLUSIONS: Study findings will help develop bio-efficacy and physical durability criteria for partner A.I., in relation to the cRCT epidemiological and entomologi

Journal article

Sherrard-Smith E, Winskill P, Hamlet A, Ngufor C, N'Guessan R, Guelbeogo MW, Sanou A, Nash RK, Hill A, Russell EL, Woodbridge M, Tungu P, Kont MD, McLean T, Fornadel C, Richardson JH, Donnelly MJ, Staedke SG, Gonahasa S, Protopopoff N, Rowland M, Churcher TSet al., 2022, Optimising the deployment of vector control tools against malaria: a data-informed modelling study, The Lancet Planetary Health, Vol: 6, Pages: e100-e109, ISSN: 2542-5196

Background Concern that insecticide resistant mosquitoes are threatening malaria control has driven the development of new types of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS). Malaria control programmes have a choice of vector control interventions though it is unclear which should be used to combat the disease.MethodsThe entomological impact of ITNs combining a pyrethroid insecticide with the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is characterised from experimental hut trials and used to parameterise a malaria transmission dynamics model. Model projections are validated for two sites by comparing results to data from pyrethroid-PBO ITN and IRS randomised control trials (RCTs). Models are used to identify optimum intervention packages for scenarios with varying budget, price, entomological and epidemiological factors. Findings Combining entomological data and models can reasonably predict changes in malaria in the Tanzanian and Ugandan RCTs. Models indicate switching from pyrethroid-only to pyrethroid-PBO ITNs could avert up to twice as many cases, though the additional benefit is highly variable and depends upon setting. Annual delivery of long-lasting, non-pyrethroid IRS is projected to prevent substantially more cases over 3-years, but pyrethroid-PBO ITNs tend to be the most cost-effective intervention per case averted. An online tool (MINT) provides users with a method of designing intervention packages given their setting and budget. InterpretationThe most cost-effective vector control package will vary locally. Models able to recreate results of RCTs can be used to extrapolate outcomes elsewhere to support evidence-based decision making for investment in vector control.FundingMedical Research Council, IVCC, Wellcome Trust.

Journal article

Yaro JB, Tiono AB, Ouedraogo A, Lambert B, Ouedraogo ZA, Diarra A, Traore A, Lankouande M, Soulama I, Sanou A, Worrall E, Agboraw E, Sagnon N, Ranson H, Churcher TS, Lindsay SW, Wilson ALet al., 2022, Risk of Plasmodium falciparum infection in south-west Burkina Faso: potential impact of expanding eligibility for seasonal malaria chemoprevention, Scientific Reports, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2045-2322

Burkina Faso has one of the highest malaria burdens in sub-Saharan Africa despite the mass deployment of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and use of seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) in children aged up to 5 years. Identification of risk factors for Plasmodium falciparum infection in rural Burkina Faso could help to identify and target malaria control measures. A cross-sectional survey of 1,199 children and adults was conducted during the peak malaria transmission season in the Cascades Region of south-west Burkina Faso in 2017. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for microscopically confirmed P. falciparum infection. A malaria transmission dynamic model was used to determine the impact on malaria cases averted of administering SMC to children aged 5-15 year old. P. falciparum prevalence was 32.8% in the study population. Children aged 5 to < 10 years old were at 3.74 times the odds (95% CI = 2.68-5.22, P < 0.001) and children aged 10 to 15 years old at 3.14 times the odds (95% CI = 1.20-8.21, P = 0.02) of P. falciparum infection compared to children aged less than 5 years old. Administration of SMC to children aged up to 10 years is predicted to avert an additional 57 malaria cases per 1000 population per year (9.4% reduction) and administration to children aged up to 15 years would avert an additional 89 malaria cases per 1000 population per year (14.6% reduction) in the Cascades Region, assuming current coverage of pyrethroid-piperonyl butoxide ITNs. Malaria infections were high in all age strata, although highest in children aged 5 to 15 years, despite roll out of core malaria control interventions. Given the burden of infection in school-age children, extension of the eligibility criteria for SMC could help reduce the burden of malaria in Burkina Faso and other countries in the region.

Journal article

Ngufor C, Fagbohoun J, Agbevo A, Ismail H, Challenger JD, Churcher TS, Rowland Met al., 2022, Comparative efficacy of two pyrethroid-piperonyl butoxide nets (Olyset Plus and PermaNet 3.0) against pyrethroid resistant malaria vectors: a non-inferiority assessment, Malaria Journal, Vol: 21, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 1475-2875

BackgroundPyrethroid-PBO nets were conditionally recommended for control of malaria transmitted by mosquitoes with oxidase-based pyrethroid-resistance based on epidemiological evidence of additional protective effect with Olyset Plus compared to a pyrethroid-only net (Olyset Net). Entomological studies can be used to assess the comparative performance of other brands of pyrethroid-PBO ITNs to Olyset Plus.MethodsAn experimental hut trial was performed in Cové, Benin to compare PermaNet 3.0 (deltamethrin plus PBO on roof panel only) to Olyset Plus (permethrin plus PBO on all panels) against wild pyrethroid-resistant Anopheles gambiae sensu lato (s.l.) following World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Both nets were tested unwashed and after 20 standardized washes compared to Olyset Net. Laboratory bioassays were also performed to help explain findings in the experimental huts.ResultsWith unwashed nets, mosquito mortality was higher in huts with PermaNet 3.0 compared to Olyset Plus (41% vs. 28%, P < 0.001). After 20 washes, mortality declined significantly with PermaNet 3.0 (41% unwashed vs. 17% after washing P < 0.001), but not with Olyset Plus (28% unwashed vs. 24% after washing P = 0.433); Olyset Plus induced significantly higher mortality than PermaNet 3.0 and Olyset Net after 20 washes. PermaNet 3.0 showed a higher wash retention of PBO compared to Olyset Plus. A non-inferiority analysis performed with data from unwashed and washed nets together using a margin recommended by the WHO, showed that PermaNet 3.0 was non-inferior to Olyset Plus in terms of mosquito mortality (25% with Olyset Plus vs. 27% with PermaNet 3.0, OR = 1.528, 95%CI = 1.02–2.29) but not in reducing mosquito feeding (25% with Olyset Plus vs. 30% with PermaNet 3.0, OR = 1.192, 95%CI = 0.77–1.84). Both pyrethroid-PBO nets were superior to Olyset Net.ConclusionOlyset Plus o

Journal article

de Jong RM, Meerstein-Kessel L, Da DF, Nsango S, Challenger JD, van de Vegte-Bolmer M, van Gemert G-J, Duarte E, Teyssier N, Sauerwein RW, Churcher TS, Dabire RK, Morlais I, Locke E, Huynen MA, Bousema T, Jore MMet al., 2021, Monoclonal antibodies block transmission of genetically diverse Plasmodium falciparum strains to mosquitoes, npj Vaccines, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 2059-0105

Malaria parasite transmission to mosquitoes relies on the uptake of sexual stage parasites during a blood meal and subsequent formation of oocysts on the mosquito midgut wall. Transmission-blocking vaccines (TBVs) and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) target sexual stage antigens to interrupt human-to-mosquito transmission and may form important tools for malaria elimination. Although most epitopes of these antigens are considered highly conserved, little is known about the impact of natural genetic diversity on the functional activity of transmission-blocking antibodies. Here we measured the efficacy of three mAbs against leading TBV candidates (Pfs48/45, Pfs25 and Pfs230) in transmission assays with parasites from naturally infected donors compared to their efficacy against the strain they were raised against (NF54). Transmission-reducing activity (TRA) was measured as reduction in mean oocyst intensity. mAb 45.1 (α-Pfs48/45) and mAb 4B7 (α-Pfs25) reduced transmission of field parasites from almost all donors with IC80 values similar to NF54. Sequencing of oocysts that survived high mAb concentrations did not suggest enrichment of escape genotypes. mAb 2A2 (α-Pfs230) only reduced transmission of parasites from a minority of the donors, suggesting that it targets a non-conserved epitope. Using six laboratory-adapted strains, we revealed that mutations in one Pfs230 domain correlate with mAb gamete surface binding and functional TRA. Our findings demonstrate that, despite the conserved nature of sexual stage antigens, minor sequence variation can significantly impact the efficacy of transmission-blocking mAbs. Since mAb 45.1 shows high potency against genetically diverse strains, our findings support its further clinical development and may inform Pfs48/45 vaccine design.

Journal article

Lissenden N, Kont MD, Essandoh J, Ismail HM, Churcher TS, Lambert B, Lenhart A, McCall PJ, Moyes CL, Paine MJI, Praulins G, Weetman D, Lees RSet al., 2021, Review and meta-analysis of the evidence for choosing between specific pyrethroids for programmatic purposes, Insects, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2075-4450

Pyrethroid resistance is widespread in malaria vectors. However, differential mortality in discriminating dose assays to different pyrethroids is often observed in wild populations. When this occurs, it is unclear if this differential mortality should be interpreted as an indication of differential levels of susceptibility within the pyrethroid class, and if so, if countries should consider selecting one specific pyrethroid for programmatic use over another. A review of evidence from molecular studies, resistance testing with laboratory colonies and wild populations, and mosquito behavioural assays were conducted to answer these questions. Evidence suggested that in areas where pyrethroid resistance exists, different results in insecticide susceptibility assays with specific pyrethroids currently in common use (deltamethrin, permethrin, α-cypermethrin, and λ-cyhalothrin) are not necessarily indicative of an operationally relevant difference in potential performance. Consequently, it is not advisable to use rotation between these pyrethroids as an insecticide-resistance management strategy. Less commonly used pyrethroids (bifenthrin and etofenprox) may have sufficiently different modes of action, though further work is needed to examine how this may apply to insecticide resistance management

Journal article

Nash RK, Lambert B, NGuessan R, Ngufor C, Rowland M, Oxborough R, Moore S, Tungu P, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher TSet al., 2021, Systematic review of the entomological impact of insecticide-treated nets evaluated using experimental hut trials in Africa, Current Research in Parasitology & Vector-Borne Diseases, Vol: 1, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 2667-114X

Resistance of anopheline mosquitoes to pyrethroid insecticides is spreading rapidly across sub-Saharan Africa, diminishing the efficacy of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) – the primary tool for preventing malaria. The entomological efficacy of indoor vector control interventions can be measured in experimental hut trials (EHTs), where hut structures resemble local housing, but allow the collection of mosquitoes that entered, exited, blood-fed and/or died. There is a need to understand how the spread of resistance changes ITN efficacy and to elucidate factors influencing EHT results, including differences in experimental hut design, to support the development of novel vector control tools. A comprehensive database of EHTs was compiled following a systematic review to identify all known trials investigating ITNs or indoor residual spraying across sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis focuses on EHTs investigating ITNs and uses Bayesian statistical models to characterise the complex interaction between ITNs and mosquitoes, the between-study variability, and the impact of pyrethroid resistance. As resistance rises, the entomological efficacy of ITNs declines. They induce less mortality and are less likely to deter mosquitoes from entering huts. Despite this, ITNs continue to offer considerable personal protection by reducing mosquito feeding until resistance reaches high levels. There are clear associations between the different entomological impacts of ITNs, though there is still substantial variability between studies, some of which can be accounted for by hut design. The relationship between EHT outcomes and the level of resistance (as measured by discriminating dose bioassays) is highly uncertain. The meta-analyses show that EHTs are an important reproducible assay for capturing the complex entomological efficacy of ITNs on blood-feeding mosquitoes. The impact of pyrethroid resistance on these measures appears broadly consistent across a wide geographical area onc

Journal article

Djaafara A, Whittaker C, Watson OJ, Verity R, Brazeau N, Widyastuti, Oktavia D, Adrian V, Salama N, Bhatia S, Nouvellet P, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher T, Surendra H, Lina RN, Ekawati LL, Lestari KD, Andrianto A, Thwaites G, Baird JK, Ghani A, Elyazar IRF, Walker Pet al., 2021, Using syndromic measures of mortality to capture the dynamics of COVID-19 in Java, Indonesia in the context of vaccination roll-out, BMC Medicine, Vol: 19, ISSN: 1741-7015

Background: As in many countries, quantifying COVID-19 spread in Indonesia remains challenging due to testing limitations. In Java, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were implemented throughout 2020. However, as a vaccination campaign launches, cases and deaths are rising across the island. Methods: We used modelling to explore the extent to which data on burials in Jakarta using strict COVID-19 protocols (C19P) provide additional insight into the transmissibility of the disease, epidemic trajectory, and the impact of NPIs. We assess how implementation of NPIs in early 2021 will shape the epidemic during the period of likely vaccine roll-out. Results: C19P burial data in Jakarta suggest a death toll approximately 3.3 times higher than reported. Transmission estimates using these data suggest earlier, larger, and more sustained impact of NPIs. Measures to reduce sub-national spread, particularly during Ramadan, substantially mitigated spread to more vulnerable rural areas. Given current trajectory, daily cases and deaths are likely to increase in most regions as the vaccine is rolled-out. Transmission may peak in early 2021 in Jakarta if current levels of control are maintained. However, relaxation of control measures is likely to lead to a subsequent resurgence in the absence of an effective vaccination campaign. Conclusions: Syndromic measures of mortality provide a more complete picture of COVID-19 severity upon which to base decision-making. The high potential impact of the vaccine in Java is attributable to reductions in transmission to date and dependent on these being maintained. Increases in control in the relatively short-term will likely yield large, synergistic increases in vaccine impact.

Journal article

Da DF, McCabe R, Somé BM, Esperança PM, Sala KA, Blight J, Blagborough AM, Dowell F, Yerbanga SR, Lefèvre T, Mouline K, Dabiré RK, Churcher TSet al., 2021, Detection of Plasmodium falciparum in laboratory-reared and naturally infected wild mosquitoes using near-infrared spectroscopy., Scientific Reports, Vol: 11, Pages: 10289-10289, ISSN: 2045-2322

There is an urgent need for high throughput, affordable methods of detecting pathogens inside insect vectors to facilitate surveillance. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has shown promise to detect arbovirus and malaria in the laboratory but has not been evaluated in field conditions. Here we investigate the ability of NIRS to identify Plasmodium falciparum in Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes. NIRS models trained on laboratory-reared mosquitoes infected with wild malaria parasites can detect the parasite in comparable mosquitoes with moderate accuracy though fails to detect oocysts or sporozoites in naturally infected field caught mosquitoes. Models trained on field mosquitoes were unable to predict the infection status of other field mosquitoes. Restricting analyses to mosquitoes of uninfectious and highly-infectious status did improve predictions suggesting sensitivity and specificity may be better in mosquitoes with higher numbers of parasites. Detection of infection appears restricted to homogenous groups of mosquitoes diminishing NIRS utility for detecting malaria within mosquitoes.

Journal article

Challenger J, Olivera Mesa D, Da DF, Yerbanga RS, Lefèvre T, Cohuet A, Churcher TSet al., 2021, Predicting the public health impact of a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine, Nature Communications, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 2041-1723

Transmission-blocking vaccines that interrupt malaria transmission from humans to mosquitoes are being tested in early clinical trials. The activity of such a vaccine is commonly evaluated using membrane-feeding assays. Understanding the field efficacy of such a vaccine requires knowledge of how heavily infected wild, naturally blood-fed mosquitoes are, as this indicates how difficult it will be to block transmission. Here we use data on naturally infected mosquitoes collected in Burkina Faso to translate the laboratory-estimated activity into an estimated activity in the field. A transmission dynamics model is then utilised to predict a transmission-blocking vaccine’s public health impact alongside existing interventions. The model suggests that school-aged children are an attractive population to target for vaccination. Benefits of vaccination are distributed across the population, averting the greatest number of cases in younger children. Utilising a transmission-blocking vaccine alongside existing interventions could have a substantial impact against malaria.

Journal article

Stopard IJ, Churcher TS, Lambert B, 2021, Estimating the extrinsic incubation period of malaria using a mechanistic model of sporogony, PLoS Computational Biology, Vol: 17, ISSN: 1553-734X

During sporogony, malaria-causing parasites infect a mosquito, reproduce and migrate to the mosquito salivary glands where they can be transmitted the next time blood feeding occurs. The time required for sporogony, known as the extrinsic incubation period (EIP), is an important determinant of malaria transmission intensity. The EIP is typically estimated as the time for a given percentile, x, of infected mosquitoes to develop salivary gland sporozoites (the infectious parasite life stage), which is denoted by EIPx. Many mechanisms, however, affect the observed sporozoite prevalence including the human-to-mosquito transmission probability and possibly differences in mosquito mortality according to infection status. To account for these various mechanisms, we present a mechanistic mathematical model, which explicitly models key processes at the parasite, mosquito and observational scales. Fitting this model to experimental data, we find greater variation in the EIP than previously thought: we estimated the range between EIP10 and EIP90 (at 27°C) as 4.5 days compared to 0.9 days using existing statistical methods. This pattern holds over the range of study temperatures included in the dataset. Increasing temperature from 21°C to 34°C decreased the EIP50 from 16.1 to 8.8 days. Our work highlights the importance of mechanistic modelling of sporogony to (1) improve estimates of malaria transmission under different environmental conditions or disease control programs and (2) evaluate novel interventions that target the mosquito life stages of the parasite.

Journal article

Hellewell J, Sherrard-Smith E, Ogoma S, Churcher TSet al., 2021, Assessing the impact of low-technology emanators alongside long-lasting insecticidal nets to control malaria, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol: 376, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 0962-8436

Malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa relies on the widespread use of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) or the indoor residual spraying of insecticide. Disease transmission may be maintained even when these indoor interventions are universally used as some mosquitoes will bite in the early morning and evening when people are outside. As countries seek to eliminate malaria, they can target outdoor biting using new vector control tools such as spatial repellent emanators, which emit airborne insecticide to form a protective area around the user. Field data are used to incorporate a low-technology emanator into a mathematical model of malaria transmission to predict its public health impact across a range of scenarios. Targeting outdoor biting by repeatedly distributing emanators alongside LLINs increases the chance of elimination, but the additional benefit depends on the level of anthropophagy in the local mosquito population, emanator effectiveness and the pre-intervention proportion of mosquitoes biting outdoors. High proportions of pyrethroid-resistant mosquitoes diminish LLIN impact because of reduced mosquito mortality. When mosquitoes are highly anthropophagic, this reduced mortality leads to more outdoor biting and a reduced additional benefit of emanators, even if emanators are assumed to retain their effectiveness in the presence of pyrethroid resistance. Different target product profiles are examined, which show the extra epidemiological benefits of spatial repellents that induce mosquito mortality.

Journal article

Tadesse FG, Ashine T, Teka H, Esayas E, Messenger LA, Chali W, Meerstein-Kessel L, Walker T, Behaksra SW, Lanke K, Heutink R, Jeffries CL, Mekonnen DA, Hailemeskel E, Tebeje SK, Tafesse T, Gashaw A, Tsegaye T, Emiru T, Simon K, Bogale EA, Yohannes G, Kedir S, Shumie G, Sabir SA, Mumba P, Dengela D, Kolaczinski JH, Wilson A, Churcher TS, Chibsa S, Murphy M, Balkew M, Irish S, Drakeley C, Gadisa E, Bousema Tet al., 2021, Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes as vectors of Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum, Horn of Africa, 2019, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol: 27, Pages: 603-607, ISSN: 1080-6040

Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, efficient vectors in parts of Asia and Africa, were found in 75.3% of water sources surveyed and contributed to 80.9% of wild-caught Anopheles mosquitoes in Awash Sebat Kilo, Ethiopia. High susceptibility of these mosquitoes to Plasmodium falciparum and vivax infection presents a challenge for malaria control in the Horn of Africa.

Journal article

Guglielmo F, Sanou A, Churcher TS, Ferguson HM, Ranson H, Sherrard-Smith Eet al., 2021, Quantifying individual variability in exposure risk to mosquito bites in the Cascades region, Burkina Faso, Malaria Journal, Vol: 20, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 1475-2875

BackgroundThe Cascades region, Burkina Faso, has a high malaria burden despite reported high insecticide-treated mosquito net (ITN) use. Human and vector activities outside the hours when indoor interventions offer direct protection from infectious bites potentially increase exposure risk to bites from malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquitoes. This work investigated the degree of variation in human behaviour both between individuals and through time (season) to quantify how it impacts exposure to malaria vectors.MethodsPatterns in human overnight activity (18:00–06:00) to quantify time spent using an ITN across 7 successive nights in two rural communities, Niakore (N = 24 participants) and Toma (71 participants), were observed in the dry and rainy seasons, between 2017 and 2018. Hourly human landing Anopheles mosquito catches were conducted in Niakore specifically, and Cascades region generally, between 2016 and 2017. Data were statistically combined to estimate seasonal variation in time spent outdoors and Anopheles bites received per person per night (bpppn).ResultsSubstantial variability in exposure to outdoor Anopheles bites was detected within and between communities across seasons. In October, when Anopheles densities are highest, an individual’s risk of Anopheles bites ranged from 2.2 to 52.2 bites per person per night (bpppn) within the same week with variable risk dependent on hours spent indoors. Comparably higher outdoor human activity was observed in April and July but, due to lower Anopheles densities estimated, bpppn were 0.2–4.7 and 0.5–32.0, respectively. Males and people aged over 21 years were predicted to receive more bites in both sentinel villages.ConclusionThis work presents one of the first clear descriptions of the degree of heterogeneity in time spent outdoors between people and across the year. Appreciation of sociodemographic, cultural and entomological activities will help refine approaches to vector

Journal article

Devine GJ, Vazquez-Prokopec GM, Bibiano-Marin W, Pavia-Ruz N, Che-Mendoza A, Medina-Barreiro A, Villegas J, Gonzalez-Olvera G, Dunbar MW, Ong O, Ritchie SA, Churcher TS, Kirstein OD, Manrique-Saide Pet al., 2021, The entomological impact of passive metofluthrin emanators against indoor Aedes aegypti: A randomized field trial, PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1935-2735

Journal article

Bompard A, Da DF, Yerbanga SR, Morlais I, Awono-Ambéné PH, Dabiré RK, Bosco Ouédraogo J, Lefèvre T, Churcher TS, Cohuet Aet al., 2020, High Plasmodium infection intensity in naturally infected malaria vectors in Africa, International Journal for Parasitology, Vol: 50, Pages: 985-996, ISSN: 0020-7519

The population dynamics of human to mosquito malaria transmission in the field has important implications for the genetics, epidemiology and control of malaria. The number of oocysts in oocyst-positive mosquitoes developing from a single, naturally acquired infectious blood meal (herein referred to as a single-feed infection load) greatly influences the efficacy of transmission blocking interventions but still remains poorly documented. During a year-long analysis of malaria parasite transmission in Burkina Faso we caught and dissected wild malaria vectors to assess Plasmodium oocyst prevalence and load (the number of oocysts counted in mosquitoes with detectable oocysts) and the prevalence of salivary gland sporozoites. This was compared with malaria endemicity in the human population, assessed in cross-sectional surveys. Data were analyzed using a novel transmission mathematical model to estimate the per bite transmission probability and the average single-feed infection load for each location. The observed oocyst load and the estimated single-feed infection load in naturally infected mosquitoes were substantially higher than previous estimates (means ranging from 3.2 to 24.5 according to seasons and locations) and indicate a strong positive association between the single-feed infection load and parasite prevalence in humans. This work suggests that highly infected mosquitoes are not rare in the field and might have a greater influence on the epidemiology and genetics of the parasite, and on the efficacy of novel transmission blocking interventions.

Journal article

Hogan A, Jewell B, Sherrard-Smith E, Watson O, Whittaker C, Hamlet A, Smith J, Winskill P, Verity R, Baguelin M, Lees J, Whittles L, Ainslie K, Bhatt S, Boonyasiri A, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Cooper L, Coupland H, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Dighe A, Djaafara A, Donnelly C, Eaton J, van Elsland S, Fitzjohn R, Fu H, Gaythorpe K, Green W, Haw D, Hayes S, Hinsley W, Imai N, Laydon D, Mangal T, Mellan T, Mishra S, Parag K, Thompson H, Unwin H, Vollmer M, Walters C, Wang H, Ferguson N, Okell L, Churcher T, Arinaminpathy N, Ghani A, Walker P, Hallett Tet al., 2020, Potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries: a modelling study, The Lancet Global Health, Vol: 8, Pages: e1132-e1141, ISSN: 2214-109X

Background: COVID-19 has the potential to cause substantial disruptions to health services, including by cases overburdening the health system or response measures limiting usual programmatic activities. We aimed to quantify the extent to which disruptions in services for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in low- and middle-income countries with high burdens of those disease could lead to additional loss of life. Methods: We constructed plausible scenarios for the disruptions that could be incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and used established transmission models for each disease to estimate the additional impact on health that could be caused in selected settings.Findings: In high burden settings, HIV-, TB- and malaria-related deaths over five years may increase by up to 10%, 20% and 36%, respectively, compared to if there were no COVID-19 pandemic. We estimate the greatest impact on HIV to be from interruption to antiretroviral therapy, which may occur during a period of high health system demand. For TB, we estimate the greatest impact is from reductions in timely diagnosis and treatment of new cases, which may result from any prolonged period of COVID-19 suppression interventions. We estimate that the greatest impact on malaria burden could come from interruption of planned net campaigns. These disruptions could lead to loss of life-years over five years that is of the same order of magnitude as the direct impact from COVID-19 in places with a high burden of malaria and large HIV/TB epidemics.Interpretation: Maintaining the most critical prevention activities and healthcare services for HIV, TB and malaria could significantly reduce the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, DFID, MRC

Journal article

Sherrard-Smith E, Hogan AB, Hamlet A, Watson OJ, Whittaker C, Winskill P, Ali F, Mohammad AB, Uhomoibhi P, Maikore I, Ogbulafor N, Nikau J, Kont MD, Challenger JD, Verity R, Lambert B, Cairns M, Rao B, Baguelin M, Whittles LK, Lees JA, Bhatia S, Knock ES, Okell L, Slater HC, Ghani AC, Walker PGT, Okoko OO, Churcher TSet al., 2020, The potential public health consequences of COVID-19 on malaria in Africa., Nature Medicine, Vol: 26, Pages: 1411-1416, ISSN: 1078-8956

The burden of malaria is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where cases and deaths associated with COVID-19 are rising1. In response, countries are implementing societal measures aimed at curtailing transmission of SARS-CoV-22,3. Despite these measures, the COVID-19 epidemic could still result in millions of deaths as local health facilities become overwhelmed4. Advances in malaria control this century have been largely due to distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs)5, with many SSA countries having planned campaigns for 2020. In the present study, we use COVID-19 and malaria transmission models to estimate the impact of disruption of malaria prevention activities and other core health services under four different COVID-19 epidemic scenarios. If activities are halted, the malaria burden in 2020 could be more than double that of 2019. In Nigeria alone, reducing case management for 6 months and delaying LLIN campaigns could result in 81,000 (44,000-119,000) additional deaths. Mitigating these negative impacts is achievable, and LLIN distributions in particular should be prioritized alongside access to antimalarial treatments to prevent substantial malaria epidemics.

Journal article

Suh E, Grossman MK, Waite JL, Dennington NL, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher TS, Thomas MBet al., 2020, The influence of feeding behaviour and temperature on the capacity of mosquitoes to transmit malaria, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 4, Pages: 940-951, ISSN: 2397-334X

Insecticide-treated bed nets reduce malaria transmission by limiting contact between mosquito vectors and human hosts when mosquitoes feed during the night. However, malaria vectors can also feed in the early evening and in the morning when people are not protected. Here, we explored how the timing of blood feeding interacts with environmental temperature to influence the capacity of Anopheles mosquitoes to transmit the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In laboratory experiments, we found no effect of biting time itself on the proportion of mosquitoes that became infectious (vector competence) at constant temperature. However, when mosquitoes were maintained under more realistic fluctuating temperatures, there was a significant increase in competence for mosquitoes feeding in the evening (18:00), and a significant reduction in competence for those feeding in the morning (06:00), relative to those feeding at midnight (00:00). These effects appear to be due to thermal sensitivity of malaria parasites during the initial stages of parasite development within the mosquito, and the fact that mosquitoes feeding in the evening experience cooling temperatures during the night, whereas mosquitoes feeding in the morning quickly experience warming temperatures that are inhibitory to parasite establishment. A transmission dynamics model illustrates that such differences in competence could have important implications for malaria prevalence, the extent of transmission that persists in the presence of bed nets, and the epidemiological impact of behavioural resistance. These results indicate that the interaction of temperature and feeding behaviour could be a major ecological determinant of the vectorial capacity of malaria mosquitoes.

Journal article

Suh E, Grossman M, Waite J, Dennington N, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher T, Thomas Met al., 2020, The influence of feeding behaviour and temperature on the capacity of mosquitoes to transmit malaria, Nature Ecology and Evolution, ISSN: 2397-334X

Insecticide-treated bed nets reduce malaria transmission by limiting contact between mosquito vectors and human hosts when mosquitoes feed during the night. However, malaria vectors can also feed in the early evening and in the morning when people are not protected. Here, we explored how timing of blood feeding interacts with environmental temperature to influence the capacity of Anopheles mosquitoes to transmit the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum . We found no effect of biting time itself on the proportion of mosquitoes that became infectious (vector competence) at constant temperature. However, when mosquitoes were maintained under more realistic fluctuating temperatures there was a significant increase in competence for mosquitoes feeding in the evening, and a significant reduction in competence for those feeding in the morning, relative to those feeding at midnight. These effects appear to be due to thermal sensitivity of malaria parasites during the initial stages of parasite development within the mosquito, and the fact that mosquitoes feeding in the evening experience cooling temperatures during the night, whereas mosquitoes feeding in the morning quickly experience warming temperatures that are inhibitory to parasite establishment. A transmission dynamics model illustrates that such differences in competence could have important implications for disease endemicity, the extent of transmission that persists in the presence of bed nets, and the epidemiological impact of behavioural resistance. These results indicate the interaction of temperature and feeding behaviour to be a major ecological determinant of the vectorial capacity of malaria mosquitoes.

Journal article

Sherrard-Smith E, Hogan A, Hamlet A, Watson OJ, Whittaker C, Winskill P, Verity R, Lambert B, Cairns M, Okell L, Slater H, Ghani A, Walker P, Churcher T, Imperial College COVID19 response teamet al., 2020, Report 18: The potential public health impact of COVID-19 on malaria in Africa.

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to severely interrupt health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the coming weeks and months. Approximately 90% of malaria deaths occur in this region of the world, with an estimated 380,000 deaths from malaria in 2018. Much of the gain made in malaria control over the last decade has been due to the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs). Many SSA countries planned to distribute these in 2020. We used COVID-19 and malaria transmission models to understand the likely impact that disruption to these distributions, alongside other core health services, could have on the malaria burden. Results indicate that if all malaria-control activities are highly disrupted then the malaria burden in 2020 could more than double that in the previous year, resulting in large malaria epidemics across the region. These will depend on the course of the COVID-19 epidemic and how it interrupts local health system. Our results also demonstrate that it is essential to prioritise the LLIN distributions either before or as soon as possible into local COVID-19 epidemics to mitigate this risk. Additional planning to ensure other malaria prevention activities are continued where possible, alongside planning to ensure basic access to antimalarial treatment, will further minimise the risk of substantial additional malaria mortality.

Report

Esperança P, Da D, Lambert B, Dabiré R, Churcher Tet al., 2020, Functional data analysis techniques to improve the generalizability of near-infrared spectral data for monitoring mosquito populations, Publisher: bioRxiv

Near infrared spectroscopy is increasingly being used as an economical method to monitormosquito vector populations in support of disease control. Despite this rise in popularity,strong geographical variation in spectra has proven an issue for generalising predictions fromone location to another. Here, we use a functional data analysis approach—which mod-els spectra as smooth curves rather than as a discrete set of points—to develop a methodthat is robust to geographic heterogeneity. Specifically, we use a penalised generalised linearmodelling framework which includes efficient functional representation of spectra, spectralsmoothing and regularisation. To ensure better generalisation of model predictions fromone training set to another, we use cross-validation procedures favouring smoother represen-tation of spectra. To illustrate the performance of our approach, we collected spectra forfield-caught specimens ofAnopheles gambiaecomplex mosquitoes – the most epidemiolog-ically important vector species on the planet – in two sites in Burkina Faso. Using thesespectra, we show how models trained on data from one site can successfully classify mor-phologically identical sibling species in another site, over 250km away. Whilst we apply ourframework to species prediction, our unified statistical framework can, alternatively, handleregression analysis (for example, to determine mosquito age) and other types of multinomialclassification (for example, to determine infection status). To make our methods readilyavailable for field entomologists, we have created an open-source R packagemlevcm. Alldata used is publicly also available.

Working paper

Ong OTC, Kho EA, Esperanca PM, Freebairn C, Dowell FE, Devine GJ, Churcher TSet al., 2020, Ability of near-infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics to predict the age of mosquitoes reared under different conditions, Parasites and Vectors, Vol: 13, ISSN: 1756-3305

BackgroundPractical, field-ready age-grading tools for mosquito vectors of disease are urgently needed because of the impact that daily survival has on vectorial capacity. Previous studies have shown that near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), in combination with chemometrics and predictive modeling, can forecast the age of laboratory-reared mosquitoes with moderate to high accuracy. It remains unclear whether the technique has utility for identifying shifts in the age structure of wild-caught mosquitoes. Here we investigate whether models derived from the laboratory strain of mosquitoes can be used to predict the age of mosquitoes grown from pupae collected in the field.MethodsNIRS data from adult female Aedes albopictus mosquitoes reared in the laboratory (2, 5, 8, 12 and 15 days-old) were analysed against spectra from mosquitoes emerging from wild-caught pupae (1, 7 and 14 days-old). Different partial least squares (PLS) regression methods trained on spectra from laboratory mosquitoes were evaluated on their ability to predict the age of mosquitoes from more natural environments.ResultsModels trained on spectra from laboratory-reared material were able to predict the age of other laboratory-reared mosquitoes with moderate accuracy and successfully differentiated all day 2 and 15 mosquitoes. Models derived with laboratory mosquitoes could not differentiate between field-derived age groups, with age predictions relatively indistinguishable for day 1–14. Pre-processing of spectral data and improving the PLS regression framework to avoid overfitting can increase accuracy, but predictions of mosquitoes reared in different environments remained poor. Principal components analysis confirms substantial spectral variations between laboratory and field-derived mosquitoes despite both originating from the same island population.ConclusionsModels trained on laboratory mosquitoes were able to predict ages of laboratory mosquitoes with good sensitivity and specificity though

Journal article

Esperanca P, Da D, Lambert B, Dabire R, Churcher Tet al., 2020, Functional data analysis techniques to improve the generalizability of near-infrared spectral data for monitoring mosquito populations

Report

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