Contributing to research themes:
This research has not been peer-reviewed. This is a preliminary report that should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behaviour, or be reported in news media as established information.
Background: Following a single dose of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, higher antibody titres are observed following prior SARS-CoV-2 infection than in infection-naive individuals, but T-cell responses are less well defined.
Methods: We sampled healthcare workers (HCWs) enrolled in the UK PITCH study, before and after BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination. We measured spike-specific antibody, and quantified T-cell responses by IFNγ ELISpot assay and intracellular staining of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), comparing SARS-CoV-2-naïve individuals to those with prior infection.
Findings: HCWs aged 22 to 71 years received one (n=216) or two (n=21) vaccine doses. After a single dose, the spike-specific T-cell response was six-fold higher in previously-infected vs. naive individuals (median 340 vs. 58 SFU/106 PBMC, p<0.0001; fresh PBMC, n=99). The T-cell response in previously-infected individuals after one vaccine dose was equivalent to naïve individuals receiving two vaccine doses (median 158 vs. 165 SFU/106 PBMCs, p=0.65; cryopreserved PBMC, n=117). Anti-spike IgG levels following a single dose in those previously infected (median 512.9 antibody units/ml (AU/ml)) were 6.8-fold higher vs. naïve individuals following one dose (median 75.0 AU/ml, p<0.0001) and 2.9-fold higher than naïve individuals given two doses three weeks apart (179.9 AU/ml, p=0.03). Following vaccination, plasma from individuals with prior infection demonstrated higher in vitro neutralisation of the B.1.351 variant of concern compared to naive individuals.
Interpretation: Following a single BNT162b2 dose, HCWs with a prior history of SARS-CoV-2 infection have significantly higher T-cell and antibody responses than naive individuals.