This article reviews some of the issues involved in evaluating vaccines in humans. Vaccine trials are required for licensure and are essential for demonsrating a vaccine's safety and protective efficacy. The formal framework of phase I, II and III trials is described, with particular emphasis on the choice of hypotheses, trial design, and biases that arise in the context of vaccine trials. However, some aspects of a vaccine's performance cannot be evaluated in clinical trials owing to their relatively small size. Thus, vaccine evaluation must continue after licensure, for example, to evaluate the vaccine with respect to rare reactions, duration of protection, and ecological effects. The article reviews some of the methods commonly used for post-licensure studies of vaccine efficacy and safety.
- Clinical trial