Background: COVID-19 vaccines have proven highly effective among individuals without a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, but their effectiveness in preventing symptomatic infection and severe outcomes among individuals with previous infection is less clear. We aimed to estimate the effectiveness of four COVID-19 vaccines against symptomatic infection, hospitalisation, and death for individuals with laboratory-confirmed previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Methods: Using national COVID-19 notification, hospitalisation, and vaccination datasets from Brazil, we did a testnegative, case-control study to assess the effectiveness of four vaccines (CoronaVac [Sinovac], ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 [AstraZeneca], Ad26.COV2.S [Janssen], and BNT162b2 [Pfizer-BioNtech]) for individuals with laboratory-confirmed previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. We matched cases with RT-PCR positive, symptomatic COVID-19 with up to ten controls with negative RT-PCR tests who presented with symptomatic illnesses, restricting both groups to tests done at least 90 days after an initial infection. We used multivariable conditional logistic regression to compare the odds of test positivity and the odds of hospitalisation or death due to COVID-19, according to vaccination status and time since first or second dose of vaccines.
Findings: Between Feb 24, 2020, and Nov 11, 2021, we identified 213457 individuals who had a subsequent, symptomatic illness with RT-PCR testing done at least 90 days after their initial SARS-CoV-2 infection and after the vaccination programme started. Among these, 30 910 (14·5%) had a positive RT-PCR test consistent with reinfection, and we matched 22566 of these cases with 145055 negative RT-PCR tests from 68426 individuals as controls. Among individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection 14 or more days from vaccine series completion was 39·4% (95% CI 36·1–42·6) for CoronaVac, 56·0% (51·4–60·2) for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, 44·0% (31·5–54·2) for Ad26.COV2.S, and 64·8% (54·9–72·4) for BNT162b2. For the two-dose vaccine series (CoronaVac, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and BNT162b2), effectiveness against symptomatic infection was significantly greater after the second dose than after the first dose. Effectiveness against hospitalisation or death 14 or more days from vaccine series completion was 81·3% (75·3–85·8) for CoronaVac, 89·9% (83·5–93·8) for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, 57·7% (–2·6 to 82·5) for Ad26.COV2.S, and 89·7% (54·3–97·7) for BNT162b2.
Interpretation: All four vaccines conferred additional protection against symptomatic infections and severe outcomes among individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. The provision of a full vaccine series to individuals after recovery from COVID-19 might reduce morbidity and mortality. Funding Brazilian National Research Council, Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, JBS, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and Generalitat de Catalunya.