Contemporary Clinical Trials
Volume 100 January 2021
Research article Full text access
Innovative trial designs and analyses for vaccine clinical development
Mengya Liu, Qing Li, Jianchang Lin, Yunzhi Lin, Elaine Hoffman
In the past decades, the world has experienced several major virus outbreaks, e.g. West African Ebola outbreak, Zika virus in South America and most recently global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many vaccines have been developed to prevent a variety of infectious diseases successfully. However, several infections have not been preventable so far, like COVID-19, which induces an immediate urgent need for effective vaccines. These emerging infectious diseases often pose unprecedent challenges for the global heath community as well as the conventional vaccine development paradigm. With a long and costly traditional vaccine development process, there are extensive needs in innovative vaccine trial designs and analyses, which aim to design more efficient vaccines trials. Featured with reduced development timeline, less resource consuming or improved estimate for the endpoints of interests, these more efficient trials bring effective medicine to target population in a faster and less costly way. In this paper, we will review a few vaccine trials equipped with adaptive design features, Bayesian designs that accommodate historical data borrowing, the master protocol strategy emerging during COVID-19 vaccine development, Real-World-Data (RWD) embedded trials and the correlate of protection framework and relevant research works. We will also discuss some statistical methodologies that improve the vaccine efficacy, safety and immunogenicity analyses. Innovative clinical trial designs and analyses, together with advanced research technologies and deeper understanding of the human immune system, are paving the way for the efficient development of new vaccines in the future.