Recombinant Zoster Vaccine Is Efficacious and Safe in Frail Individuals

Desmond Curran, Joon H Kim, Sean Matthews, Christophe Dessart, Myron J Levin, Lidia Oostvogels, Megan E Riley, Kenneth E Schmader, Anthony L Cunningham, Shelly A McNeil, Anne E Schuind, Melissa K Andrew
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2021, 69 (3): 744-752

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Frail participants are often under-represented in randomized trials, raising questions about outcomes of interventions in real-world settings. Frailty is strongly associated with vulnerability to illness and adverse health outcomes. We studied the impact of frailty on recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) clinical outcomes.

DESIGN/SETTING: Data from two previously conducted phase III randomized trials of RZV were pooled. These two parent trials were conducted concurrently at the same study sites using the same methods.

PARTICIPANTS/INTERVENTION: In the two parent studies, participants aged ≥50 years (ZOE-50 study) and ≥70 years (ZOE-70 study), respectively, were randomized 1:1 to receive two doses of RZV or placebo.

MEASUREMENTS: In the current ZOE-Frailty study (NCT03563183), a frailty index was created using previously validated methods. Clinical outcomes assessed by frailty status included vaccine efficacy, immunogenicity, reactogenicity, and safety.

RESULTS: Of 29,305 participants from the pooled ZOE-50 and ZOE-70 total vaccinated cohort, 92% were included in this study. Mean age was 68.8 years; 58.1% were women; 45.6% were pre-frail and 11.3% frail. The percentage of frail participants increased with age from 5.7% aged 50-59 years to 22.7% aged ≥80 years. RZV vaccine efficacy against herpes zoster was >90% for all frailty subgroups (non-frail: 95.8% (95% confidence interval = 91.6-98.2), pre-frail: 90.4% (84.4-94.4), frail: 90.2% (75.4-97.0)). The RZV group demonstrated robust anti-gE antibody and gE-specific CD42+ responses, with mean concentrations remaining above pre-vaccination levels at least 3 years post-dose two, in all frailty subgroups. In the RZV group, the percentage of participants reporting solicited adverse events tended to decrease with increasing frailty.

CONCLUSION: The relatively nonrestrictive inclusion/exclusion criteria in the parent ZOE studies resulted in a range of participants that included frail and pre-frail older adults. RZV significantly reduced the risk of herpes zoster across all frailty subgroups.

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