Background: To optimise the use of available SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, some advocate delaying second vaccination for individuals infected within six months. We studied whether post-vaccination immune response is equally potent in individuals infected over six months prior to vaccination. Methods: We tested serum IgG binding to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and neutralising capacity in 110 healthcare workers, before and after both BNT162b2 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccinations. We compared outcomes between participants with more recent infection (n = 18, median two months, IQR 2-3), with infection-vaccination interval over six months (n = 19, median nine months, IQR 9-10), and to those not previously infected (n = 73). Findings: Both recently and earlier infected participants showed comparable humoral immune responses after a single mRNA vaccination, while exceeding those of previously uninfected persons after two vaccinations with 2.5 fold (p = 0.003) and 3.4 fold (p < 0.001) for binding antibody levels, and 6.4 and 7.2 fold for neutralisation titres, respectively (both p < 0.001). The second vaccine dose yielded no further substantial improvement of the humoral response in the previously infected participants (0.97 fold, p = 0.92), while it was associated with a 4 fold increase in antibody binding levels and 18 fold increase in neutralisation titres in previously uninfected participants (both p < 0.001). Adjustment for potential confounding of sex and age did not affect these findings. Interpretation: Delaying the second vaccination in individuals infected up to ten months prior may constitute a more efficient use of limited vaccine supplies.
Volume 72, October 2021, 103589