Practice Guidelines in Health Care Adaptation of Vaccination Design to Assess Durability

Author(s): Yi Li Wu

The absence of a placebo group could compromise assessment of longer-term vaccine effects. However, by continuing follow-up after vaccination of the placebo group, this study shows that placebo-controlled vaccine efficacy can be mathematically derived by assuming that the benefit of vaccination over time has the same profile for the original vaccine recipients and the original placebo recipients after their vaccination. Although this derivation provides less precise estimates than would be obtained by a standard trial where the placebo group remains unvaccinated, this proposed approach allows estimation of longer-term effect, including durability of vaccine efficacy and whether the vaccine eventually becomes harmful for some. Deferred vaccination, if done open-label, may lead to riskier behavior in the unblinded original vaccine group, confounding estimates of long-term vaccine efficacy. Hence, deferred vaccination via blinded crossover, where the vaccine group receives placebo and vice versa, would be the preferred way to assess vaccine durability and potential delayed harm.