Fourth Dose COVID mRNA Vaccines’ Immunogenicity & Efficacy Against Omicron VOC

BACKGROUND Following the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern, we investigated immunogenicity, efficacy and safety of BNT162b2 or mRNA1273 fourth dose in an open-label, clinical intervention trial. METHODS Primary end-points were safety and immunogenicity and secondary end-points were vaccine efficacy in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 symptomatic disease. The two intervention arms were compared to a matched control group. Eligible participants were healthcare-workers (HCW) vaccinated with three BNT162b2 doses, and whose IgG antibody levels were ≀700 BAU (40-percentile). IgG and neutralizing titers, direct neutralization of live VOCs, and T-cell activation were assessed. All participants were actively screened for SARS-CoV-2 infections on a weekly basis. RESULTS Of 1050 eligible HCW, 154 and 120 were enrolled to receive BNT162b2 and mRNA1273, respectively, and compared to 426 age-matched controls. Recipients of both vaccine types had a ~9-10-fold increase in IgG and neutralizing titers within 2 weeks of vaccination and an 8-fold increase in live Omicron VOC neutralization, restoring titers to those measured after the third vaccine dose. Breakthrough infections were common, mostly very mild, yet, with high viral loads. Vaccine efficacy against infection was 30% (95%CI:-9% to 55%) and 11% (95%CI:-43% to +43%) for BNT162b2 and mRNA1273, respectively. Local and systemic adverse reactions were reported in 80% and 40%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS The fourth COVID-19 mRNA dose restores antibody titers to peak post-third dose titers. Low efficacy in preventing mild or asymptomatic Omicron infections and the infectious potential of breakthrough cases raise the urgency of next generation vaccine development.

Competing Interest Statement
GRY recieved an unrelated research grant from Pfizer (on pneumococcal

infections), and from Nanosense on volatile organic compounds

Clinical Trial
clinicaltrial NCT05231005, NCT05230953

Funding Statement
This study did not receive any external funding.

Author Declarations
I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.