Third SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and breakthrough infections enhance humoral and cellular immunity against variants of concern


SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is the leading strategy to prevent severe courses after SARS-CoV-2 infection. In our study, we analyzed humoral and cellular immune responses in detail to three consecutive homologous or heterologous SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations and breakthrough infections.


Peripheral blood samples of n=20 individuals were analyzed in the time course of three SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations and/or breakthrough infection. S1-, RBD-, S2- and N-specific IgG antibodies were quantified using Luminex-based multiplex assays and electrochemiluminescence multiplex assays for surrogate neutralization in plasma. Changes in cellular immune components were determined via flow cytometry of whole blood samples.


All individuals (n=20) responded to vaccination with increasing S1-/RBD-/S2-specific IgG levels, whereas specific plasma IgA displayed individual variability. The third dose increased antibody inhibitory capacity (AIC) against immune-escape variants Beta and Omicron BA.1 independently of age. The mRNA-primed vaccination induced IgG and IgA immunity more efficiently, whereas vector-primed individuals displayed higher levels of memory T and B cells. Vaccinees showed SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses, which were further improved and specified after Omicron breakthrough infections in parallel to the appearance of new variant-specific antibodies.


In conclusion, the third vaccination was essential to increase IgG levels, mandatory to boost AIC against immune-escape variants, and induced SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. Breakthrough infection with Omicron generates additional spike specificities covering all known variants.


Citation style:
Could not load citation form.

Access Statistic

Last 12 Month:


Use and reproduction: