Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-borne alphavirus responsible for numerous outbreaks. Chikungunya can cause debilitating acute and chronic disease. Thus, the development of a safe and effective CHIKV vaccine is an urgent global health priority. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the live-attenuated CHIKV vaccine VLA1553 against WT CHIKV infection by using passive transfer of sera from vaccinated volunteers to nonhuman primates (NHP) subsequently exposed to WT CHIKV and established a serological surrogate of protection. We demonstrated that human VLA1553 sera transferred to NHPs conferred complete protection from CHIKV viremia and fever after challenge with homologous WT CHIKV. In addition, serum transfer protected animals from other CHIKV-associated clinical symptoms and from CHIKV persistence in tissue. Based on this passive transfer study, a 50% micro–plaque reduction neutralization test titer of ≥ 150 was determined as a surrogate of protection, which was supported by analysis of samples from a seroepidemiological study. In conclusion, considering the unfeasibility of an efficacy trial due to the unpredictability and explosive, rapidly moving nature of chikungunya outbreaks, the definition of a surrogate of protection for VLA1553 is an important step toward vaccine licensure to reduce the medical burden caused by chikungunya.
Pierre Roques, Andrea Fritzer, Nathalie Dereuddre-Bosquet, Nina Wressnigg, Romana Hochreiter, Laetitia Bossevot, Quentin Pascal, Fabienne Guehenneux, Annegret Bitzer, Irena Corbic Ramljak, Roger Le Grand, Urban Lundberg, Andreas Meinke