Limited Humoral and Specific T-Cell Responses After SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination in PWH With Poor Immune Reconstitution

J Infect Dis. 2022 Nov 28;226(11):1913-1923. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiac406.


Background: We analyzed humoral and cellular immune responses induced by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV; PWH) who had CD4+ T-cell counts <200/µL (HIV<200 group).

Methods: This prospective cohort study included 58 PWH in the HIV<200 group, 36 with CD4+ T-cell counts >500/µL (HIV>500 group), and 33 HIV-1-negative controls (control group). Antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (anti-S immunoglobulin [Ig] G) and the receptor-binding domain (anti-RBD IgG) were quantified before and 4 weeks after the first and the second doses of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 (at week 8). Viral neutralization activity and T-cell responses were also determined.

Results: At week 8, anti-S/anti-RBD IgG responses increased in all groups (P < .001). Median (interquartile range) anti-S and anti-RBD IgG levels at week 8 were 153.6 (26.4-654.9) and 171.9 (61.8-425.8) binding antibody units (BAU)/mL, respectively, in the HIV<200 group, compared with 245.6 (145-824) and 555.8 (166.4-1751) BAU/mL in the HIV>500 group and 274.7 (193.7-680.4) and 281.6 (181-831.8) BAU/mL in controls (P < .05). Neutralizing capacity and specific T-cell immune responses were absent or reduced in 33% of those in the HIV<200 group, compared with 3.7% in the HIV>500 group (P < .01).

Conclusions: One-third of PWH with CD4+ T-cell counts <200/µL show low anti-S/anti-RBD IgG levels, reduced in vitro neutralization activity against SARS-CoV-2, and no vaccine-induced T cells after receiving coronavirus disease 2019 mRNA vaccines.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 vaccine; anti-RBD IgG; anti-S IgG; neutralizing antibodies; people with HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / immunology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • HIV Seropositivity*
  • Humans
  • Immune Reconstitution*
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Vaccination


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2