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Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327509


The two most commonly-used SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in the UK, BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) and ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (Oxford-AstraZeneca), employ different immunogenic mechanisms. Compared to BNT162b2, two-dose immunisation with ChAdOx1 induces substantially lower peak anti-spike antibody (anti-S) levels and is associated with a higher risk of breakthrough infections. To provide preliminary indication of how a third booster BNT162b2 dose impacts anti-S levels, we performed a cross-sectional analysis using capillary blood samples from vaccinated adults (aged ≥18 years) participating in Virus Watch, a prospective community cohort study in England and Wales. Blood samples were analysed using Roche Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S immunoassay. We analysed anti-S levels by week since the third dose for vaccines administered on or after September 1, 2021 and stratified the results by second dose vaccine type (ChAdOx1 or BNT162b2), age, sex and clinical vulnerability. Anti-S levels peaked at two weeks post-booster for BNT162b2 (22,185 U/mL;95%CI: 21,406-22,990) and ChAdOx1 second dose recipients (19,203 U/mL;95%CI: 18,094-20,377). These were higher than the corresponding peak antibody levels post-second dose for BNT162b2 (12,386 U/mL;95%CI: 9,801-15,653, week 2) and ChAdOx1 (1,192 U/mL;95%CI: 818-1735, week 3). No differences emerged by second dose vaccine type, age, sex or clinical vulnerability. Anti-S levels declined post-booster for BNT162b2 (half-life=44 days) and ChAdOx1 second dose recipients (half-life=40 days). These rates of decline were steeper than those post-second dose for BNT162b2 (half-life=54 days) and ChAdOx1 (half-life=80 days). Our findings suggest that peak anti-S levels are higher post-booster than post-second dose, but that levels are projected to be similar after six months for BNT162b2 recipients. Higher peak anti-S levels post-booster may partially explain the increased effectiveness of booster vaccination compared to two-dose vaccination against symptomatic infection with the Omicron variant. Faster waning trajectories post third-dose may have implications for the timing of future booster campaigns or four-dose vaccination regimens for the clinically vulnerable.