Background: The risk of acquiring Lyme disease is high in areas in which the disease is endemic, and the development of a safe and effective vaccine is therefore important.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter, double-blind, randomized trial involving 10,936 subjects who lived in areas of the United States in which Lyme disease is endemic. Participants received an injection of either recombinant Borrelia burgdorferi outer-surface lipoprotein A (OspA) with adjuvant or placebo at enrollment and 1 and 12 months later. In cases of suspected Lyme disease, culture of skin lesions, polymerase-chain-reaction testing, or serologic testing was done. Serologic testing was performed 12 and 20 months after study entry to detect asymptomatic infections.
Results: In the first year, after two injections, 22 subjects in the vaccine group and 43 in the placebo group contracted definite Lyme disease (P=0.009); vaccine efficacy was 49 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 15 to 69 percent). In the second year, after the third injection, 16 vaccine recipients and 66 placebo recipients contracted definite Lyme disease (P<0.001); vaccine efficacy was 76 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 58 to 86 percent). The efficacy of the vaccine in preventing asymptomatic infection was 83 percent in the first year and 100 percent in the second year. Injection of the vaccine was associated with mild-to-moderate local or systemic reactions lasting a median of three days.
Conclusions: Three injections of vaccine prevented most definite cases of Lyme disease or asymptomatic B. burgdorferi infection.