Association between history of HBV vaccine response and anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike antibody response to the BioNTech/Pfizer’s BNT162b2 mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine among healthcare workers in Japan: A prospective observational study

di | 05/16/2022

by Momoko Iwamoto, Akira Ukimura, Taku Ogawa, Fumiko Kawanishi, Naofumi Osaka, Mari Kubota, Tatsuhiko Mori, Ritsuko Sawamura, Masami Nishihara, Tomio Suzuki, Kazuhisa Uchiyama


Inadequate vaccine response is a common concern among healthcare workers at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to investigate if healthcare workers with history of weak immune response to HBV vaccination are more likely to have weak responses against the BioNTech/Pfizer’s BNT162b2 mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.


We prospectively tested 954 healthcare workers for the Anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein antibody titers prior to the first and second BNT162b2 vaccination doses and after four weeks after the second dose using Roche’s Elecsys® assay. We calculated the percentage of patients who seroconverted after the first and second doses. We estimated the relative risk of non-seroconversion after the first BNT162b2 vaccine (defined as anti-SARS-CoV-2-S titer Results

Among 954 healthcare workers recruited between March 9 and March 24, 2021 at Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University, weak and normal HBV vaccine responders had comparable S-protein titers after the first BNT162b2 dose (51.4 [95% confidence interval 25.2–137.0] versus 59.7 [29.8–138.0] U/mL, respectively). HBV vaccine non-responders were more likely than normal responders to not seroconvert after a single dose (age and sex-adjusted relative risk 1.85 95% confidence interval [1.10–3.13]) although nearly all participants seroconverted after the second dose. After limiting the analysis to 382 patients with baseline comorbidity data, the comorbidity-adjusted relative risk of non-seroconversion among HBV vaccine non-responders to normal responders was 1.32 (95% confidence interval [0.59–2.98]).


Long term follow-up studies are needed to understand if protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 wanes faster among those with history of HBV vaccine non-response and when booster doses are warranted for these healthcare workers.

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