Risk of infection, hospitalisation, and death up to 9 months after a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine: a retrospective, total population cohort study in Sweden


By Prof Peter Nordström, PhD, Marcel Ballin, MSc, Anna Nordström, PhD  The Lancet, published 4 Feb 2022,  

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00089-7  



Vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 beyond 6 months remains incompletely understood. We aimed to investigate the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination against the risk of infection, hospitalisation, and death during the first 9 months after vaccination for the total population of Sweden.


This retrospective, total population cohort study was done using data from Swedish nationwide registers. The cohort comprised all individuals vaccinated with two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, mRNA-1273, or BNT162b2, and matched unvaccinated individuals, with data on vaccinations and infections updated until Oct 4, 2021. Two outcomes were evaluated. The first was SARS-CoV-2 infection of any severity from Jan 12 to Oct 4, 2021. The second was severe COVID-19, defined as hospitalisation for COVID-19 or all-cause 30-day mortality after confirmed infection, from March 15 to Sept 28, 2021.


Between Dec 28, 2020, and Oct 4, 2021, 842 974 individuals were fully vaccinated (two doses), and were matched (1:1) to an equal number of unvaccinated individuals (total study cohort n=1 685 948). For the outcome SARS-CoV-2 infection of any severity, the vaccine effectiveness of BNT162b2 waned progressively over time, from 92% (95% CI 92 to 93; p<0·001) at 15-30 days, to 47% (39 to 55; p<0·001) at 121-180 days, and to 23% (−2 to 41; p=0·07) from day 211 onwards. Waning was slightly slower for mRNA-1273, with a vaccine effectiveness of 96% (94 to 97; p<0·001) at 15-30 days and 59% (18 to 79; p=0·012) from day 181 onwards. Waning was also slightly slower for heterologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 plus an mRNA vaccine, for which vaccine effectiveness was 89% (79 to 94; p<0·001) at 15-30 days and 66% (41 to 80; p<0·001) from day 121 onwards. By contrast, vaccine effectiveness for homologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine was 68% (52 to 79; p<0·001) at 15-30 days, with no detectable effectiveness from day 121 onwards (−19% [-98 to 28]; p=0·49). For the outcome of severe COVID-19, vaccine effectiveness waned from 89% (82 to 93; p<0·001) at 15-30 days to 64% (44 to 77; p<0·001) from day 121 onwards. Overall, there was some evidence for lower vaccine effectiveness in men than in women and in older individuals than in younger individuals.


We found progressively waning vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection of any severity across all subgroups, but the rate of waning differed according to vaccine type. With respect to severe COVID-19, vaccine effectiveness seemed to be better maintained, although some waning became evident after 4 months. The results strengthen the evidence-based rationale for administration of a third vaccine dose as a booster.

During a median follow-up of 108 days (IQR 69-145), a SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed in 27 918 individuals, of whom 6147 were vaccinated (4·9 infections per 100 000 person-days) and 21 771 were unvaccinated (31·6 infections per 100 000 person-days). The vaccine effectiveness associated with two doses of any vaccine peaked at 15-30 days (92% [95% CI 91 to 93]; p<0·001) and declined marginally at 31-60 days (89% [88 to 89]; p<0·001; table 2, figure 2). From thereon, the waning became more pronounced, and from day 211 onwards there was no remaining detectable vaccine effectiveness (23% [-2 to 41]; p=0·07).