The long-term effectiveness of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Antimicrob Steward Healthc Epidemiol. 2022 Feb 14;2(1):e22. doi: 10.1017/ash.2021.261. eCollection 2022.


Background: Although multiple studies revealed high vaccine effectiveness of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines within 3 months after the completion of vaccines, long-term vaccine effectiveness has not been well established, especially after the δ (delta) variant became prominent. We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of long-term vaccine effectiveness.

Methods: We searched PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Scopus, and Web of Science from December 2019 to November 15, 2021, for studies evaluating the long-term vaccine effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-19 hospitalization among individuals who received 2 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccines, or 1 dose of the Janssen vaccine. Long-term was defined as >5 months after the last dose. We calculated the pooled diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) with 95% confidence interval for COVID-19 between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Vaccine effectiveness was estimated as 100% × (1 - DOR).

Results: In total, 16 studies including 17,939,172 individuals evaluated long-term vaccine effectiveness and were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled DOR for COVID-19 was 0.158 (95% CI: 0.157-0.160) with an estimated vaccine effectiveness of 84.2% (95% CI, 84.0- 84.3%). Estimated vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalization was 88.7% (95% CI, 55.8%-97.1%). Vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 during the δ variant period was 61.2% (95% CI, 59.0%-63.3%).

Conclusions: COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing COVID-19 and COVID-19 hospitalization across a long-term period for the circulating variants during the study period. More observational studies are needed to evaluate the vaccine effectiveness of third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine effectiveness of mixing COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 breakthrough infection, and vaccine effectiveness against newly emerging variants.

Publication types

  • Review