Neutralizing immunity in vaccine breakthrough infections from the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta variants

Virus-like particle (VLP) and live virus assays were used to investigate neutralizing immunity against Delta and Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants in 259 samples from 128 vaccinated individuals. Following Delta breakthrough infection, titers against WT rose 57-fold and 3.1-fold compared to uninfected boosted and unboosted individuals, respectively, versus only a 5.8-fold increase and 3.1-fold decrease for Omicron breakthrough infection. Among immunocompetent, unboosted patients, Delta breakthrough infections induced 10.8-fold higher titers against WT compared to Omicron (p=0.037). Decreased antibody responses in Omicron breakthrough infections relative to Delta were potentially related to a higher proportion of asymptomatic or mild breakthrough infections (55.0% versus 28.6%, respectively), which exhibited 12.3-fold lower titers against WT compared to moderate-severe infections (p=0.020). Following either Delta or Omicron breakthrough infection, limited variant-specific cross-neutralizing immunity was observed. These results suggest that Omicron breakthrough infections are less immunogenic than Delta, thus providing reduced protection against reinfection or infection from future variants.

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