Protection against SARS-CoV-2 after Covid-19 vaccination and previous infection

SIREN Study Group, Devesh J Dhasmana

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Abstract

Background: The duration and effectiveness of immunity from infection with and vaccination against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are relevant to pandemic policy interventions, including the timing of vaccine boosters.

Methods: We investigated the duration and effectiveness of immunity in a prospective cohort of asymptomatic health care workers in the United Kingdom who underwent routine polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) testing. Vaccine effectiveness (≤10 months after the first dose of vaccine) and infection-acquired immunity were assessed by comparing the time to PCR-confirmed infection in vaccinated persons with that in unvaccinated persons, stratified according to previous infection status. We used a Cox regression model with adjustment for previous SARS-CoV-2 infection status, vaccine type and dosing interval, demographic characteristics, and workplace exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Results: Of 35,768 participants, 27% (9488) had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccine coverage was high: 95% of the participants had received two doses (78% had received BNT162b2 vaccine [Pfizer-BioNTech] with a long interval between doses, 9% BNT162b2 vaccine with a short interval between doses, and 8% ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine [AstraZeneca]). Between December 7, 2020, and September 21, 2021, a total of 2747 primary infections and 210 reinfections were observed. Among previously uninfected participants who received long-interval BNT162b2 vaccine, adjusted vaccine effectiveness decreased from 85% (95% confidence interval [CI], 72 to 92) 14 to 73 days after the second dose to 51% (95% CI, 22 to 69) at a median of 201 days (interquartile range, 197 to 205) after the second dose; this effectiveness did not differ significantly between the long-interval and short-interval BNT162b2 vaccine recipients. At 14 to 73 days after the second dose, adjusted vaccine effectiveness among ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine recipients was 58% (95% CI, 23 to 77) - considerably lower than that among BNT162b2 vaccine recipients. Infection-acquired immunity waned after 1 year in unvaccinated participants but remained consistently higher than 90% in those who were subsequently vaccinated, even in persons infected more than 18 months previously.

Conclusions: Two doses of BNT162b2 vaccine were associated with high short-term protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection; this protection waned considerably after 6 months. Infection-acquired immunity boosted with vaccination remained high more than 1 year after infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1220
Number of pages14
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Volume386
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Adaptive immunity/immunology
  • Asymptomatic diseases
  • BNT162 vaccine/therapeutic use
  • COVID-19/diagnosis
  • COVID-19 nucleic acid testing
  • COVID-19 vaccines/immunology
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/therapeutic use
  • Health personnel
  • Humans
  • Prospective studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom
  • Vaccination/methods
  • Vaccine efficacy

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