Relative vaccine protection, disease severity, and symptoms associated with the SARS-CoV-2 omicron subvariant BA.2.86 and descendant JN.1 in Denmark: a nationwide observational study.

Moustsen-Helms IR, Bager P, Larsen TG, Møller FT, Vestergaard LS, Rasmussen M, Hansen CH, SSI-DMC Study Group

Lancet Infect Dis - (-) - [2024-05-15; online 2024-05-15]

During the 2023 Danish COVID-19 vaccination campaign, an updated monovalent mRNA vaccine targeting the SARS-CoV-2 omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant was administered. However, the rapid spread of a genetically divergent omicron BA.2.86 subvariant, JN.1, since September, 2023, poses potential challenges due to its rapid dominance and possible immune escape. Using national electronic health registry data from all regions of Denmark, we aimed to investigate whether the SARS-CoV-2 subvariant BA.2.86, and its descendant JN.1, differed from other circulating variants in terms of their ability to escape vaccine protection, the risk of infection leading to severe disease, and self-reported symptoms among infected people. In this observational study, we included all residents of Denmark aged 65 years and older who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR between Oct 1 and Dec 31, 2023, and for whom genomic data on the SARS-CoV-2 variant that had caused their infection were available. Data from clinical testing, sentinel, and self-sampling-based surveillance were linked with national electronic civil, vaccination, and hospitalisation registers. The relative protection of the XBB.1.5 updated COVID-19 vaccine against BA.2.86 infections versus infections with other variants was analysed in a case-only study, and the relative risk of hospitalisation in people infected with BA.2.86 versus other variants was analysed in a case-control study. Both analyses were adjusted for time, comorbidities, and previous vaccination history, among other potential confounders. Additionally, prevalence patterns in self-reported symptoms among people of all ages infected with SARS-CoV-2 were reported separately by subvariant. Of the 7581 people in Denmark aged 65 years or older who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR during the study period, 5882 (78%) samples were eligible for sequencing. 3862 (66%) of these passed quality control, were successfully sequenced, and the SARS-CoV-2 variant and subvariant identified, and these individuals were included in the study. Of these 3862 people, 2184 (57%) were infected with the BA.2.86 subvariant, including 1615 JN.1 infections. Participants infected with BA.2.86 had 1·52 (95% CI 1·25-1·86) times the odds, and those infected with JN.1 had 1·60 (1·27-2·02) times the odds, of having received the XBB.1.5 vaccine at least 7 days before their infection compared with participants infected with a non-BA.2.86 variant. The severity analysis showed no evidence of association between the infecting variant and the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation (odds ratio 1·04 [95% CI 0·86-1·26] for BA.2.86 and 1·07 [0·85-1·34] for JN.1). Similarly, there was no evidence of differences in self-reported symptoms by variant strain. Compared with other SARS-CoV-2 variants, BA.2.86 and the JN.1 sublineage were less sensitive to vaccine-induced immune protection from the XBB.1.5 updated COVID-19 vaccine; however, we found no evidence that infection with BA.2.86 or JN.1 resulted in increased disease severity or different symptom profiles. Although less effective against the new variants, XBB.1.5 vaccination remains protective and reduces the risk of infection and COVID-19 disease. The Danish Government and the EU's EU4Health programme.

Category: Omicron VoC

Category: Vaccines

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38761806

DOI 10.1016/S1473-3099(24)00220-2

Crossref 10.1016/S1473-3099(24)00220-2

pii: S1473-3099(24)00220-2

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