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Review article: Biomedical intelligence

Vol. 154 No. 5 (2024)

Long-term levels of protection of different types of immunity against the Omicron variant: a rapid literature review

  • Sabina Rodriguez Velásquez
  • Loza Estifanos Biru
  • Sandrine Marie Hakiza
  • Muaamar Al-Gobari
  • Isotta Triulzi
  • Jyoti Dalal
  • Camille Beatrice Gaza Varela
  • Sara Botero Mesa
  • Olivia Keiser
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2024;154:3732


INTRODUCTION: With the emergence of newer SARS-CoV-2 variants and their substantial effects on the levels and duration of protection against infection, an understanding of these characteristics of the protection conferred by humoral and cellular immunity can aid in the proper development and implementation of vaccine and safety guidelines.

METHODS: We conducted a rapid literature review and searched five electronic databases weekly from 1 November 2021 to 30 September 2022. Studies that assessed the humoral or cellular immunity conferred by infection, vaccination or a hybrid (combination of both) in adults and risk groups (immunocompromised and older populations) were identified. Studies were eligible when they reported data on immunological assays of COVID-19 (related to vaccination and/or infection) or the effectiveness of protection (related to the effectiveness of vaccination and/or infection).

RESULTS: We screened 5103 studies and included 205 studies, of which 70 provided data on the duration of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. The duration of protection of adaptive immunity was greatly impacted by Omicron and its subvariants: levels of protection were low by 3–6 months from exposure to infection/vaccination. Although more durable, cellular immunity also showed signs of waning by 6 months. First and second mRNA vaccine booster doses increased the levels of protection against infection and severe disease from Omicron and its subvariants but continued to demonstrate a high degree of waning over time.

CONCLUSION: All humoral immunities (infection-acquired, vaccine-acquired and hybrid) waned by 3–6 months. Cellular immunity was more durable but showed signs of waning by 6 months. Hybrid immunity had the highest magnitude of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Boosting may be recommended as early as 3–4 months after the last dose, especially in risk groups.


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