Burden-of-illness vaccine efficacy

Pharm Stat. 2020 Sep;19(5):636-645. doi: 10.1002/pst.2020. Epub 2020 Mar 27.


In recent years, many vaccines have been developed for the prevention of a variety of diseases. Although the primary objective of vaccination is to prevent disease, vaccination can also reduce the severity of disease in those individuals who develop breakthrough disease. Observations of apparent mitigation of breakthrough disease in vaccine recipients have been reported for a number of vaccine-preventable diseases such as Herpes Zoster, Influenza, Rotavirus, and Pertussis. The burden-of-illness (BOI) score was developed to incorporate the incidence of disease as well as the severity and duration of disease. A severity-of-illness score S > 0 is assigned to individuals who develop disease and a score of 0 is assigned to uninfected individuals. In this article, we derive the vaccine efficacy statistic (which is the standard statistic for presenting efficacy outcomes in vaccine clinical trials) based on BOI scores, and we extend the method to adjust for baseline covariates. Also, we illustrate it with data from a clinical trial in which the efficacy of a Herpes Zoster vaccine was evaluated.

Keywords: burden of illness; clinical trials; herpes zoster; vaccine efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Herpes Zoster / prevention & control
  • Herpes Zoster Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage*


  • Herpes Zoster Vaccine
  • Vaccines