The BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) is being utilised internationally for mass COVID-19 vaccination. Evidence of single-dose protection against symptomatic disease has encouraged some countries to opt for delayed booster doses of BNT162b2, but the effect of this strategy on rates of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection remains unknown. We previously demonstrated frequent pauci- and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst healthcare workers (HCWs) during the UK’s first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, using a comprehensive PCR-based HCW screening programme (Rivett et al., 2020; Jones et al., 2020). Here, we evaluate the effect of first-dose BNT162b2 vaccination on test positivity rates, and find a four-fold reduction in asymptomatic infection amongst HCWs ≥12 days post-vaccination. These data provide real-world evidence of short-term protection against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection following a single dose of BNT162b2 vaccine, suggesting that mass first-dose vaccination will reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission, as well as the burden of COVID-19 disease.
- Michael P Weekes
- Ian G Goodfellow
- Paul J Lehner
- Nicholas J Matheson
- Nicholas J Matheson
- Richard J Samworth
- Shaun Seaman
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: This study was conducted as a service evaluation of the CUHNFT staff testing and vaccination services (CUHNFT clinical project ID ID3682). As a study of healthcare-associated infections, this investigation is exempt from requiring ethical approval under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006 (see also the NHS Health Research Authority algorithm, available at http://www.hra-decisiontools.org.uk/research/, which concludes that no formal ethical approval is required).
- Jos WM van der Meer, Radboud University Medical Centre, Netherlands
- Received: March 26, 2021
- Accepted: April 7, 2021
- Accepted Manuscript published: April 8, 2021 (version 1)
© 2021, Jones et al.
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