Abstract: SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections have been increasingly reported in fully vaccinated individuals. We conducted a test-negative case-control study to assess the durability of protection after full vaccination with BNT162b2, defined as 14 days after the second dose, against polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, in a national medical practice between February 1, 2021 and August 22, 2021. We fit conditional logistic regression (CLR) models stratified on residential county and calendar time of testing to assess the association between time elapsed since vaccination and the odds of symptomatic infection or non-COVID-19 hospitalization (negative control), adjusted for several covariates. The primary population included 652 individuals who had a positive symptomatic test after full vaccination with BNT162b2 (cases) and 5,946 individuals with at least one negative symptomatic test after full vaccination (controls). The adjusted odds of symptomatic infection were higher 120 days after full vaccination versus at the date of full vaccination (Odds Ratio [OR]: 3.21, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.33-7.74). Importantly, the odds of infection were still lower 150 days after the first BNT162b2 dose as compared to 4 days after the first dose (OR: 0.3, 95% CI: 0.19-0.45), when immune protection approximates the unvaccinated status. Low rates of COVID-19 associated hospitalization or death in this cohort precluded analyses of these severe outcomes. The odds of experiencing a non-COVID-19 hospitalization decreased with time since vaccination, suggesting a possible underestimation of waning protection by this approach due to confounding factors. Taken together, these data constitute an early signal for waning protection against symptomatic illness while also providing reassurance that BNT162b2 continues to protect against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection several months after full vaccination. Continued surveillance of COVID-19 vaccine durability, particularly against severe disease, is critical to guide effective and equitable strategies to respond to the pandemic, including distribution of booster doses, development of new vaccines, and implementation of both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical interventions.
Arjun Puranik, Patrick Lenehan, John C O'Horo, Michiel JM Niesen, Abinash Virk, Melanie D Swift, Walter Kremers, AJ Venkatakrishnan, Joel E Gordon, Holly L Geyer, Leigh Lewis Speicher, Venky Soundararajan, Andrew D Badley