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The development of effective vaccines continues to be a key goal for public health bodies, governments, funding bodies and pharmaceutical companies. With new vaccines such as Shingrix targeting Shingles and Bexsero for Meningitis B, licensed in recent years, today’s population can be protected from more infectious diseases than ever before. Despite this, we are yet to license vaccines for some of the deadliest endemic diseases affecting children, such as malaria. In addition, the threat of epidemics caused by emerging pathogens is very real as exemplified by the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak. Most licensed vaccines provide efficacy through humoral immunity and correlates of protection often quantify neutralising antibody titre. The role of T-cells in vaccine efficacy is less well understood and more complex to quantify. Defining T-cell responses which afford protection also remains a challenge, although more sophisticated assays for assessing cell-mediated immunity with the potential for higher throughput and scalability are now available and warrant review. Here we discuss the benefits of multiparameter cytokine analysis and omics approaches compared with flow cytometric and ELISpot assays. We also review technical challenges unique to clinical trial studies, including assay validation across laboratories and availability of sample type. Measuring T-cell immunogenicity alongside humoral responses provides information on the breadth of immune responses induced by vaccination. Accurately enumerating and phenotyping T-cell immunogenicity to vaccination is key for the determination of immune correlates of protection. However, identifying such T-cell parameters remains challenging without a clear understanding of the immunological mechanisms by which a T-cell-mediated response induces protection.

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