Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than one hundred million people since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic. In this study, data from a large hospital in central Italy was used to evaluate the impact of the first dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine on SARS-CoV-2 infections in terms of the prevalence of symptomatic cases, symptom duration, and viral clearance timing. All vaccinated Healthcare Workers (HCWs) with positive RT-PCR by nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs were divided into two cohorts (positive RT-PCR within day 12 and positive RT-PCR between day 13 and day 21 after first dose administration) and compared for the presence and duration of symptoms and the timing of viral clearance. The same variables were evaluated across HCWs with positive RT-PCR within 6 days after first dose administration and non-vaccinated HCWs with positive RT-PCR between 1 October 2020 and 28 February 2021. Eighteen HCWs tested positive on RT-PCR by NP swab from day 1 to day 12 after the 1st dose administration (incidence rate 6.2 × 10-4) and 5 HCWs from day 13 to day 21 (incidence rate 2.3 × 10-4). Symptom duration and viral clearance timing are significantly shorter in the cohort of HCWs with positive RT-PCR 12 days after the first dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. The administration of the first dose proved effective in reducing presence, symptom duration, and viral clearance even in HCWs vaccinated for less than 6 days. These results could have implications on public health and post-exposure prophylaxis.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; first dose administration; healthcare workers; mRNA vaccine; vaccine.