Importance: Human infections with the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus were first reported in China in 2013 and continue to occur. Hemagglutinin H7 administered alone is a poor immunogen necessitating evaluation of adjuvanted H7N9 vaccines.
Objective: To evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of an inactivated H7N9 vaccine with and without AS03 adjuvant, as well as mixed vaccine schedules that included sequential administration of AS03- and MF59-containing formulations and of adjuvanted and unadjuvanted formulations.
Design, setting, and participants: Double-blind, phase 2 trial at 5 US sites enrolled 980 adults aged 19 through 64 years from September 2013 through November 2013; safety follow-up was completed in January 2015.
Interventions: The H7N9 vaccine was given on days 0 and 21 at nominal doses of 3.75 µg, 7.5 µg, 15 µg, and 45 µg of hemagglutinin with or without AS03 or MF59 adjuvant mixed on site.
Main outcomes and measures: Proportions achieving a hemagglutination inhibition antibody (HIA) titer of 40 or higher at 21 days after the second vaccination; vaccine-related serious adverse events through 12 months after the first vaccination; and solicited signs and symptoms after vaccination through day 7.
Results: Two doses of vaccine were required to induce detectable antibody titers in most participants. After 2 doses of an H7N9 formulation containing 15 µg of hemagglutinin given without adjuvant, with AS03 adjuvant, or with MF59 adjuvant, the proportion achieving an HIA titer of 40 or higher was 2% (95% CI, 0%-7%) without adjuvant (n = 94), 84% (95% CI, 76%-91%) with AS03 adjuvant (n = 96), and 57% (95% CI, 47%-68%) with MF59 adjuvant (n = 92) (P < .001 for comparison of the AS03 and MF59 schedules). The 2 schedules alternating AS03-and MF59-adjuvanted formulations led to lower geometric mean titers (GMTs) of (41.5 [95% CI, 31.7-54.4]; n = 92) and (58.6 [95% CI, 44.3-77.6]; n = 96) than the group induced by 2 AS03-adjuvanted formulations (n = 96) (103.4 [95% CI, 78.7-135.9]; P < .001) but higher GMTs than 2 doses of MF59-adjuvanted formulation (n = 94) (29.0 [95% CI, 22.4-37.6]; P < .001).
Conclusions and relevance: The AS03 and MF59 adjuvants augmented the immune responses to 2 doses of an inactivated H7N9 influenza vaccine, with AS03-adjuvanted formulations inducing the highest titers. This study of 2 adjuvants used in influenza vaccine formulations with adjuvant mixed on site provides immunogenicity information that may be informative to influenza pandemic preparedness programs.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01942265.