Contributing to research themes:
B cells play a central role in the immune response to both SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination, but the development of the B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire in both contexts has not been defined nor compared. We analysed serial samples from 171 SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals with a range of disease severities together with 63 vaccine recipients, and found marked differences in the global BCR repertoire after natural infection compared to vaccination. Following infection, the proportion of BCRs bearing IgG1/3 and IgA1 isotypes increased, somatic hypermutation (SHM) was markedly decreased and, in patients with severe disease, expansion of IgM and IgA clones was observed. In contrast, after vaccination the proportion of BCRs bearing IgD/M isotypes increased, SHM was unchanged and expansion of IgG clones was prominent. Infection generated a broad distribution of SARS-CoV-2-specific clones predicted to target the spike protein whilst vaccination produced a more focused response mainly targeting the spike’s receptor-binding domain. These findings offer insights into how different immune exposure to SARS-CoV-2 impacts upon BCR repertoire development, potentially informing vaccine strategies.