Effectiveness of vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the pre-delta era: a systematic review and meta-analysis
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Italian Ministry Of Health Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A414
The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in terms of prevention of disease and transmission in the pre-Delta era. The evaluation was narrowed to two mRNA vaccines and two modified adenovirus-vectored vaccines.

The overall risk of any SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by positive real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test was estimated in partially and fully vaccinated individuals. The evidence synthesis was pursued through a random-effects meta-analysis. The effect size was expressed as relative risk (RR) and RRR (RR reduction) of SARS-CoV-2 infection following vaccination. Heterogeneity was investigated through a between-study heterogeneity analysis and a subgroup meta-analysis.

The systematic review identified 27 studies eligible for the quantitative synthesis. Partially vaccinated individuals presented a RRR = 73% (95%CI = 59-83%) for positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR (RR = 0.27) and a RRR=79% (95%CI = 30-93%) for symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 PCR (RR = 0.21). Fully vaccinated individuals showed a RRR = 94% (95%CI = 88-98%) for SARS-CoV-2 positive PCR (RR = 0.06) compared to unvaccinated individuals. The full BNT162b2 vaccination protocol achieved a RRR = 84-94% against any SARS-CoV-2-positive PCR and a RRR = 68-84% against symptomatic positive PCR.

The meta-analysis results suggest that full vaccination might block transmission. In particular, the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection appeared higher for non-B.1.1.7 variants and individuals aged ≥69 years. Considering the high level of heterogeneity, these findings must be taken with caution. Further research on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is encouraged.