BACKGROUND: The use of cell-culture technologies for the manufacture of influenza vaccines might contribute to improved strain selection and robust vaccine supplies. We investigated the safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy of a Vero-cell-culture-derived influenza vaccine, and assessed the correlation between vaccine efficacy and haemagglutination inhibition antibody titre.
METHODS: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial undertaken in 36 centres in the USA, healthy adults (aged 18-49 years) were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to one injection of either placebo or Vero-cell-culture-derived influenza vaccine during the 2008-09 season. Randomisation was done in blocks by use of the random number generator algorithm, and participants were allocated by use of a centralised telephone system. The primary objective was the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing cell-culture-confirmed influenza infection with viruses that were antigenically matched to one of the vaccine strains. Analysis was by intention to treat. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00566345.
FINDINGS: 7250 participants were randomly assigned to vaccine (n=3626) and placebo (n=3624). 7236 were analysed for the primary outcome (n=3619 and n=3617, respectively). Overall protective efficacy for antigenically matched influenza infection was 78·5% (95% CI 60·8-88·2). The vaccine was well tolerated with no treatment-related serious adverse events. Adverse events were mainly mild and transient. An HI titre of at least 1:15 provided a reliable correlate of cell-culture-derived influenza vaccine-induced protection; no additional benefit was noted with titres greater than 1:30