Background: The potential consequences of an avian influenza pandemic warrants the development of safe, highly immunogenic pre-pandemic A/H5N1 vaccines with cross-clade protection. In this randomized, controlled study we compared the immunogenicity and safety of an MF59(®)-adjuvanted (Novartis Vaccines, Marburg, Germany) A/H5N1 pre-pandemic vaccine with that of a licensed, MF59-adjuvanted, seasonal influenza vaccine.
Methods: Healthy adult (18-60 years, n=3372) and elderly (≥61 years, n=275) volunteers received either an initial dose of a licensed, non-adjuvanted, trivalent, seasonal influenza vaccine (Agrippal(®)) on Day 1, followed by one dose of MF59-H5N1 study vaccine on Day 22 and a second dose of MF59-H5N1 on Day 43, or alternatively, placebo on Day 1 followed by one dose of MF59-adjuvanted seasonal reference vaccine on Day 22 and a second dose of reference vaccine on Day 43. Homologous and cross-reactive A/H5N1 antibody responses were analysed by haemagglutination inhibition (HI), single radial haemolysis (SRH), and microneutralization (MN) assays three weeks after each vaccination. Vaccine safety was assessed throughout the study.
Results: Analysis by HI assay found that two doses of MF59-H5N1 resulted in a seroconversion rate of 56% and a geometric mean ratio (GMR) of 7.1 in adult subjects. Similar results were observed on analysis by SRH (GMR 4.03; seroconversion 78% and seroprotection 91%) and MN (seroconversion 67%) assays. These data met the European licensure criteria for influenza vaccines. No significant difference in immunogenicity was detected between the adult and elderly populations. Anti-A/H5N1 cross-clade antibodies were detected by SRH, 49% of adult and 32% of elderly subjects achieved seroconversion after the second vaccine dose. Overall, MF59-H5N1 containing 7.5μg antigen was less reactogenic than the MF59-adjuvanted trivalent seasonal vaccine which contained 15μg antigen for each component strain.
Conclusions: Two doses of MF59-H5N1 vaccine were well tolerated and induced adequate levels of seroprotection against homologous and cross-clade A/H5N1 virus. These data support the suitability of MF59-adjuvanted A/H5N1 vaccine for pre-pandemic use in adults and the elderly.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00841763.
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