SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses before and after a third dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine in Italian healthcare workers aged ≤60 years: One year of surveillance

Front Immunol. 2022 Sep 30:13:947187. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.947187. eCollection 2022.


This study monitored the anti-spike-receptor-binding domain (RBD) and neutralizing antibodies induced by the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine in a cohort of 163 healthcare workers aged ≤60 years. We have taken advantage of two study groups, both of whom received the first two doses in the same time window, but Group 1 (54 HCWs) received the third dose 2 months before Group 2 (68 HCWs) did. The cohorts were monitored from the 12th day after the first vaccine dose up to 1 month after the third vaccine dose for a total of eight time points and about 1 year of surveillance (T1 = 12 days after the first dose; T2 = 10 days after the second dose; T3 = 1 month after the second dose; T4 = 3 months after the second dose; T5 = 4 months after the second dose; T6 = 5 months after the second dose; T7 = 7 months after the second dose; T8 = 1 month after the third dose for Group 1; T8* = 9 months after the second dose for Group 2; T9 = 1 month after the third dose for Group 2). The mean value of anti-spike antibodies decreased faster over time, but at T7, its decline was significantly slowed (T7 vs. T8*). After the third dose, the anti-spike titer rose about 34-fold (T7 vs. T8 and T8* vs. T9) and the booster improved the anti-spike titer by about three times compared with that of the second dose (T3 vs. T8 and T3 vs. T9), and no difference was noted between the two groups. The neutralizing titer was evaluated at T3, T7, T8, and T9. Anti-spike and neutralizing antibodies were found to be strongly correlated (r2 = 0.980; p < 0.001). At T3, 70% of the participants had a neutralizing antibody titer >91% of total anti-spike antibodies that increased to 90% after the third dose (T8 and T9). However, when the anti-spike titer reached its lowest value (T7), the neutralizing antibody levels decreased even further, representing only 44% of total anti-spike antibodies (p < 0.0001). Our findings show that the third vaccine dose improves the humoral response, but the wane of the anti-spike and neutralizing antibody titers over time is more marked in the neutralizing antibodies.

Keywords: BNT162b2; SARS-CoV-2; booster; humoral response; neutralizing antibodies; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antibody Formation
  • BNT162 Vaccine*
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • RNA, Messenger
  • BNT162 Vaccine