Difference Between Efficacy and Efficiency in Drug Trials

Vaccine Efficacy

A common misconception is that vaccines with 95% efficacy implies that only 5% of vaccinated individuals become infected with a specific disease. However, this is not true. New vaccines are tested under controlled conditions (clinical trials) before being administered in the real world. One of the criteria that determines success in clinical trials is the percentage reduction in a disease in a group of individuals. For instance, a vaccine with a 95% efficacy rate means that the people who were vaccinated had a 95% lower chance of being infected with a particular disease when compared to the people in the control group. For comparison, the seasonal flu vaccine has its efficacy rates varying between 40% to 60% as it varies from year to year and also the flu strains. Moreover, vaccine efficacy is rather hard to compare between vaccines as the clinical trials occur in varying geographic areas with different populations. Some efficacy studies do not include children, though they also need vaccination.

Vaccine Effectiveness

Outside of clinical trials, there are many factors that are unaccounted for when determining vaccine efficacy. These include underlying chronic illness, age, other medications taken, storage of vaccines and more. When these factors are considered, it can potentially reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. Moreover, vaccine effectiveness cannot be measured like efficacy, where control and treatment groups are taken into account).

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Frequently Asked Questions on Efficacy and Efficiency

What is Efficacy?

Vaccine efficacy is the percentage reduction in a disease in a group of individuals. For instance, a vaccine with a 95% efficacy rate means that the people who were vaccinated had a 95% lower chance of being infected with a specific disease when compared to the people in the control group.

What is meant by 95% efficacy rate in a vaccine?

A vaccine with a 95% efficacy rate means that the people who were vaccinated had a 95% lower chance of being infected with a particular disease when compared to the people in the control group

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