Vaccine trials are generally designed to assess efficacy on clinical disease. The vaccine effect on infection, while important both as a proxy for transmission and to describe a vaccine’s entire effects, requires frequent (e.g., twice a week) longitudinal sampling to capture all infections. Such sampling may not always be feasible. A logistically easy approach is to collect a sample to test for infection at a regularly scheduled visit. Such point or cross-sectional sampling does not permit estimation of classic vaccine efficacy on infection, as long duration infections are sampled with higher probability. Building on work by Rinta-Kokko and others (2009) and Lipsitch and Kahn (2021), we evaluate proxies of the vaccine effect on transmission at a point in time; the vaccine efficacy on prevalent infection and on prevalent viral load, VE|$_{\rm PI}$| and VE|$_{\rm PVL}$|⁠, respectively. Longer infections with higher viral loads should have more transmission potential and prevalent vaccine efficacy naturally captures this aspect. We demonstrate how these parameters obtain from an underlying proportional hazards model for infection and allow for waning efficacy on infection, duration, and viral load. We estimate these parameters based on regression models with either repeated cross-sectional sampling or frequent longitudinal sampling. We evaluate the methods by simulation and analyze a phase III vaccine trial with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cross-sectional sampling for subclinical infection.

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