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St Jean, Denise T.; Edwards, Jessie K.; Rogawski McQuade, Elizabeth T.; Thompson, Peyton; Thomas, James C.; & Becker-Dreps, Sylvia I. (2023). Transporting Monovalent Rotavirus Vaccine Efficacy Estimates to an External Target Population: A Secondary Analysis of Data from a Randomised Controlled Trial in Malawi. Epidemiology and Infection, 151, e49. PMCID: PMC10052556


Oral rotavirus vaccine efficacy estimates from randomised controlled trials are highly variable across settings. Although the randomised study design increases the likelihood of internal validity of findings, results from trials may not always apply outside the context of the study due to differences between trial participants and the target population. Here, we used a weight-based method to transport results from a monovalent rotavirus vaccine clinical trial conducted in Malawi between 2005 and 2008 to a target population of all trial-eligible children in Malawi, represented by data from the 2015-2016 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). We reweighted trial participants to reflect the population characteristics described by the Malawi DHS. Vaccine efficacy was estimated for 1008 trial participants after applying these weights such that they represented trial-eligible children in Malawi. We also conducted subgroup analyses to examine the heterogeneous treatment effects by stunting and tuberculosis vaccination status at enrolment. In the original trial, the estimates of one-year vaccine efficacy against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis and any-severity rotavirus gastroenteritis in Malawi were 49.2% (95% CI 15.6%-70.3%) and 32.1% (95% CI 2.5%-53.1%), respectively. After weighting trial participants to represent all trial-eligible children in Malawi, vaccine efficacy increased to 62.2% (95% CI 35.5%-79.0%) against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis and 38.9% (95% CI 11.4%-58.5%) against any-severity rotavirus gastroenteritis. Rotavirus vaccine efficacy may differ between trial participants and target populations when these two populations differ. Differences in tuberculosis vaccination status between the trial sample and DHS population contributed to varying trial and target population vaccine efficacy estimates.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Epidemiology and Infection


St Jean, Denise T.
Edwards, Jessie K.
Rogawski McQuade, Elizabeth T.
Thompson, Peyton
Thomas, James C.
Becker-Dreps, Sylvia I.

Article Type




Data Set/Study

Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (DHS)


South Africa


Thomas, JC - 0000-0002-2225-2052
Edwards, J -0000-0002-1741-335X