How Do Clinical Trials Work?

In this short video, Dr. Stanley Plotkin explains how clinical trials are designed to test vaccines.


How Do Clinical Trials Work?

I am Stanley Plotkin, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Clinical trials, in order to be valid, must be controlled in such a way that you can derive information on the vaccine. In order to be sure that the information that you get from the vaccine is really attributable to the vaccine, one needs what is called a “control population”; that is usually a population that receives a harmless substance or something totally unrelated to the vaccine being tested. And so, after months of observing the vaccinees and observing the control population, one can compare the two — what happened to each of those two populations during the months of the trial, and if there is a difference; that is to say if there is something that happens in the vaccinated population that doesn’t happen in the control population, one can draw a conclusion about the vaccine. But also, if the two populations give the same results, particularly with regard to safety, one can conclude that the vaccine is safe.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Jan 10, 2020