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BackgroundCOV-BOOST is a multicentre, randomised, controlled, phase 2 trial of seven COVID-19 vaccines used as a third booster dose in June 2021. Monovalent messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines were subsequently widely used for the third and fourth-dose vaccination campaigns in high-income countries. Real-world vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infections following third doses declined during the Omicron wave. This report compares the immunogenicity and kinetics of responses to third doses of vaccines from day (D) 28 to D242 following third doses in seven study arms.MethodsThe trial initially included ten experimental vaccine arms (seven full-dose, three half-dose) delivered at three groups of six sites. Participants in each site group were randomised to three or four experimental vaccines, or MenACWY control. The trial was stratified such that half of participants had previously received two primary doses of ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (Oxford-AstraZeneca; hereafter referred to as ChAd) and half had received two doses of BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNtech, hereafter referred to as BNT). The D242 follow-up was done in seven arms (five full-dose, two half-dose). The BNT vaccine was used as the reference as it was the most commonly deployed third-dose vaccine in clinical practice in high-income countries. The primary analysis was conducted using all randomised and baseline seronegative participants who were SARS-CoV-2 naïve during the study and who had not received a further COVID-19 vaccine for any reason since third dose randomisation.ResultsAmong the 817 participants included in this report, the median age was 72 years (IQR: 55-78) with 50.7% being female. The decay rates of anti-spike IgG between vaccines are different among both populations who received initial doses of ChAd/ChAd and BNT/BNT. In the population that previously received ChAd/ChAd, mRNA vaccines had the highest titre at D242 following their vaccine dose although Ad26. COV2. S (Janssen; hereafter referred to as Ad26) showed slower decay. For people who received BNT/BNT as their initial doses, a slower decay was also seen in the Ad26 and ChAd arms. The anti-spike IgG became significantly higher in the Ad26 arm compared to the BNT arm as early as 3 months following vaccination. Similar decay rates were seen between BNT and half-BNT; the geometric mean ratios ranged from 0.76 to 0.94 at different time points. The difference in decay rates between vaccines was similar for wild-type live virus-neutralising antibodies and that seen for anti-spike IgG. For cellular responses, the persistence was similar between study arms.ConclusionsHeterologous third doses with viral vector vaccines following two doses of mRNA achieve more durable humoral responses compared with three doses of mRNA vaccines. Lower doses of mRNA vaccines could be considered for future booster campaigns.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of infection

Publication Date





18 - 26


Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Electronic address:


COV-BOOST study group, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Viral Vaccines, Antibodies, Viral, Vaccination, Immunity, Aged, Female, Male, United Kingdom, Immunogenicity, Vaccine, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Vaccines, BNT162 Vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19