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Frontiers of Medicine doi: 10.1007/s11684-022-0977-3

Host protection against Omicron BA.2.2 sublineages by prior vaccination in spring 2022 COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai

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The Omicron family of SARS-CoV-2 variants are currently driving the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we analyzed the clinical laboratory test results of 9911 Omicron BA.2.2 sublineages-infected symptomatic patients without earlier infection histories during a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Shanghai in spring 2022. Compared to an earlier patient cohort infected by SARS-CoV-2 prototype strains in 2020, BA.2.2 infection led to distinct fluctuations of pathophysiological markers in the peripheral blood. In particular, severe/critical cases of COVID-19 post BA.2.2 infection were associated with less pro-inflammatory macrophage activation and stronger interferon alpha response in the bronchoalveolar microenvironment. Importantly, the abnormal biomarkers were significantly subdued in individuals who had been immunized by 2 or 3 doses of SARS-CoV-2 prototype-inactivated vaccines, supporting the estimation of an overall 96.02% of protection rate against severe/critical disease in the 4854 cases in our BA.2.2 patient cohort with traceable vaccination records. Furthermore, even though age was a critical risk factor of the severity of COVID-19 post BA.2.2 infection, vaccination-elicited protection against severe/critical COVID-19 reached 90.15% in patients aged ≥ 60 years old. Together, our study delineates the pathophysiological features of Omicron BA.2.2 sublineages and demonstrates significant protection conferred by prior prototype-based inactivated vaccines.

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