A serum-free, purified vero cell rabies vaccine is safe and as immunogenic as the reference vaccine Verorab™ for pre-exposure use in healthy adults: Results from a randomized controlled phase-II trial
Background: Verorab was licensed in 1985 for both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis of rabies. The next generation purified Vero cell rabies vaccine (PVRV-NG) is a highly purified vaccine. We performed a phase II clinical study in adults in France to assess its immunological non-inferiority and clinical safety for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Methods: In a randomized phase-II trial, 384 healthy adult subjects were randomized (2:1) to receive a three-dose primary series of PVRV-NG or Verorab. One year later, the PVRV-NG group received a PVRV-NG booster while the Verorab group participants were randomized to receive a booster of PVRV-NG or Verorab for. Rabies virus neutralizing antibodies (RVNA) were evaluated on days 0, 28 (subgroup), 42, months 6, 12 and 12+14 days. Safety was evaluated for seven days after each dose. Adverse event between doses, until 28 days after the final dose was recorded. Serious adverse events were recorded up to 6 months after the last dose. Results: The criterion for non-inferiority was met in the per-protocol analysis set and confirmed in the full analysis set (FAS). In the FAS, 99.6% and 100% of subjects had RVNA titers ≥0.5 IU/mL in PVRV-NG and Verorab groups, respectively. While RVNA levels gradually decreased over the 12-month period, at 6 and 12 months after vaccination >89% and >77%, respectively, in both groups had RVNA titers ≥0.5 IU/mL. The PVRV-NG booster induced a strong response, irrespective of the vaccine given for the primary series. PVRV-NG was safe and well tolerated and its safety profile was similar to Verorab for unsolicited adverse events and solicited systemic reactions. The incidence of solicited injection-site reactions was lower with PVRV-NG than with Verorab after the primary series and the booster dose. Conclusions: PVRV-NG was shown to be at least as immunogenic as Verorab and to present a similar safety profile.