Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Impact on Rates of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Cases and Postvaccination Strain Sequences Among Health Care Workers at an Urban Academic Medical Center: A Prospective Cohort Study

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2021 Sep 17;8(10):ofab465. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofab465. eCollection 2021 Oct.


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine trials and post-implementation data suggest that vaccination decreases infections. We examine vaccination's impact on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) case rates and viral diversity among health care workers (HCWs) during a high community prevalence period.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study, HCW received 2 doses of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273. We included confirmed cases among HCWs from 9 December 2020 to 23 February 2021. Weekly SARS-CoV-2 rates per 100,000 person-days and by time from first injection (1-14 and ≥15 days) were compared with surrounding community rates. Viral genomes were sequenced.

Results: SARS-CoV-2 cases occurred in 1.4% (96/7109) of HCWs given at least a first dose and 0.3% (17/5913) of HCWs given both vaccine doses. Adjusted rate ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 0.73 (.53-1.00) 1-14 days and 0.18 (.10-.32) ≥15 days from first dose. HCW ≥15 days from initial dose compared to 1-14 days were more often older (46 vs 38 years, P = .007), Latinx (10% vs 8%, P = .03), and asymptomatic (48% vs 11%, P = .0002). SARS-CoV-2 rates among HCWs fell below the surrounding community, an 18% vs 11% weekly decrease, respectively (P = .14). Comparison of 50 genomes from post-first dose cases did not indicate selection pressure toward known spike antibody escape mutations.

Conclusions: Our results indicate an early positive impact of vaccines on SARS-CoV-2 case rates. Post-vaccination isolates did not show unusual genetic diversity or selection for mutations of concern.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine; SARS-CoV-2 infections; infection control; viral evolution; whole genome sequencing.