On Measuring Vaccine Effectiveness with Observational Study Designs
Keywords:Vaccines, Research Design, Cohort Studies, Case-Control Studies, SARS-CoV-2
Herein, we present a bird’s eye view of common observational study designs utilized for measurement of vaccine effectiveness. Assessing vaccines effectiveness is an integral part of vaccine research, particularly for the newly developed vaccines. A cohort study is prospective, directing from an exposure to one or more outcomes. The design is the best method to ascertain the attack rate of an infectious disease. A traditional case-control study is retrospective, directing from a given outcome to one or more exposures. The design cannot provide the relative risk, but it can provide the odds ratio, which is a good estimation of the relative risk when the attack rate is low. Critically depending on laboratory test results and performance, the test-negative case-control study design is another type of observational study commonly used nowadays for the evaluation of the vaccine effectiveness. Comparing to cohort and traditional case-control designs, conducting a test-negative case-control study is relatively cheaper and faster. Herein, we describe each of the above-mentioned study designs through examples generated by a Monte-Carlo simulation program assuming real-world conditions.
Conclusion. The simulation shows that regardless of the study design employed, the diagnostic test specificity is of utmost importance in providing a valid estimate of the vaccine effectiveness.
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