Published in

MDPI, Vaccines, 5(11), p. 958, 2023

DOI: 10.3390/vaccines11050958



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SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections of Omicron and Delta Variants in Healthcare Workers

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


Understanding SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections in vaccinated healthcare workers is of key importance in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in healthcare facilities. An observational prospective cohort study was conducted in vaccinated employees with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection between October 2021 and February 2022. Serological and molecular testing was performed to determine SARS-CoV-2 viral load, lineage, antibody levels, and neutralizing antibody titers. A total of 571 (9.7%) employees experienced SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections during the enrolment period, of which 81 were included. The majority (n = 79, 97.5%) were symptomatic and most (n = 75, 92.6%) showed Ct values < 30 in RT-PCR assays. Twenty-four (30%) remained PCR-positive for > 15 days. Neutralizing antibody titers were strongest for the wildtype, intermediate for Delta, and lowest for Omicron variants. Omicron infections occurred at higher anti-RBD-IgG serum levels (p = 0.00001) and showed a trend for higher viral loads (p = 0.14, median Ct difference 4.3, 95% CI [−2.5–10.5]). For both variants, viral loads were significantly higher in participants with lower anti-RBD-IgG serum levels (p = 0.02). In conclusion, while the clinical course of infection with both the Omicron and Delta variants was predominantly mild to moderate in our study population, waning immune response over time and prolonged viral shedding were observed.