It is not clear whether there is an association between adverse reactions and immune response after vaccination. Seven hundred and thirty-five vaccinees from our University Medical Center vaccination clinic provided information about sex, age and adverse reactions after first and second vaccination with BNT162b2. Adverse reactions were categorized into three groups: no or minor on the injection side, moderate (not further classified) and severe-defined as any symptom(s) resulting in sick leave. We chose 38 vaccinees with the most severe adverse reactions and compared their humoral and T-cell-mediated immune responses after second vaccination with those of 38 sex and age matched controls without or only minor injection-side related adverse reactions. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG titers were detectable in all participants (median 5528; range 958-26,285). Men with severe adverse reactions had 1.5-fold higher median SARS-CoV-2 RBD IgG titers compared to men without adverse reactions (median 7406 versus 4793; p < 0.001). Similarly; neutralization activity was significantly higher in men with severe adverse reactions (half maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) median 769 versus 485; p < 0.001). Reactogenicity did not influence humoral immune response in women nor T-cell-mediated immune response in any sex. To conclude; adverse reactions after vaccination with BNT162b2 do influence humoral immune response yet only in men and are not a prerequisite for a robust antibody response.
Keywords: BNT162b2; COVID-19; immunogenicity; reactogenicity; sex; vaccination.