Background: The current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant than against earlier variants. With recent resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 cases, the role of booster doses of the vaccine needs to be highlighted.
Methods: Using a retrospective cohort study design emulating a target trial, we determined the relative vaccine effectiveness (RVE) of a homologous booster dose of a SARS-CoV-2 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine compared with the primary vaccine series alone in preventing infection, hospitalization, and intensive care unit admission, and death in the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system in the United States. Among infection-free survivors who received 2 doses of a mRNA vaccine before 30 April 2021, we identified those who received a booster between 22 September and 25 December 2021 and matched them 1:1 with individuals who did not receive a booster.
Results: Among 2 384 272 previously uninfected persons with 2 doses of an mRNA vaccine by 30 April 2021, we identified 462 950 booster recipients between 22 September and 25 December 2021, who were matched 1:1 with non-booster recipients. The RVE (95% confidence interval) was 19% (17%-22%) for confirmed infection, 52% (46%-57%) for hospitalization, and 83% (65%-92%) for intensive care unit admission or death. Recipients of the mRNA-1273 vaccine had a lower cumulative incidence of infections and hospitalizations than recipients of the BNT162b2 vaccine (log-rank P <.001 for both comparisons).
Conclusions: While the RVE of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA booster vaccine dose in preventing infection against the Omicron variant is low, it is substantial in preventing hospitalization and high in preventing the most severe/critical disease.
Keywords: Delta variant; Omicron variant; SARS-CoV-2; booster; vaccine effectiveness.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 2022.