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Vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection during periods of Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2) or Omicron (B.1.1.529) dominance: A Danish nationwide study

By Katrine Finderup Nielsen, Ida Rask Moustsen-Helms, Astrid Blicher Schelde, Mie Agermose Gram, Hanne-Dorthe Emborg, Jens Nielsen, Christian Holm Hansen, Michael Asger Andersen, Marianna Meaidi, Jan Wohlfahrt, Palle Valentiner-Branth

Posted 01 Jun 2022
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.06.01.22275858

Introduction Individuals with a prior severe acute respiratory corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection have a moderate to high degree of protection against reinfection, though seemingly less so when the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 started to circulate. The aim of this study was to evaluate the vaccine effectiveness (VE) against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection, that is, in individuals with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, during periods with different dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants. Methods A nationwide cohort study design including all individuals with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, who were alive and residing in Denmark between 1 January 2020 and 31 January 2022 were used. Using Danish nationwide registries, we obtained information on SARS-CoV-2 infections, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination, age, sex, comorbidity, staying at hospital and region of affiliation. The study population included were individuals with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Crude and adjusted estimates of VE against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Poisson and Cox regression models, respectively. The VE estimates were calculated separately for three periods with different dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants (Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2), or Omicron (B.1.1.529)) and by time since vaccination using unvaccinated as the reference. Findings The study population comprised of 209,814 individuals infected before or during the Alpha period, 292,978 before or during the Delta period and 245,530 before or during the Omicron period. Of these, 40,281 individuals had completed their primary vaccination series during the Alpha period (19.2%), 190,026 during the Delta period (64.9%) and 158,563 during the Omicron period (64.6%). VE against reinfection following any COVID-19 vaccine type administered in Denmark, peaked at 85% (95% CI: 37% to 97%) at 104 days or more after vaccination during the Alpha period, 88% (95% CI: 81% to 92%) 14-43 days after vaccination during the Delta period and 60% (95% CI: 58% to 62%) 14-43 days after vaccination during the Omicron period. Waning immunity was observed, and was most pronounced during the Omicron period. Interpretation This study shows that, in previously infected individuals, completing a primary vaccination series was associated with a significant protection against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection compared with no vaccination for all three variant periods. Even though vaccination seems to protect to a lesser degree against reinfection with the Omicron variant, these findings are of public health relevance as they show that previously infected individuals still benefit from COVID-19 vaccination in all three variant periods.

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