Published on Tue Aug 31 2021

The resurgence risk of COVID-19 in the presence of immunity waning and ADE effect: a mathematical modelling study

Zhou, W., Tang, B., Bai, Y., Shao, Y., Xiao, Y., Tang, S.

Since the end of 2020, the mass vaccination has been actively promoted and seemed to be effective to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. However, the fact of immunity waning and the possible existence of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) make the situation uncertain.

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Abstract

Since the end of 2020, the mass vaccination has been actively promoted and seemed to be effective to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. However, the fact of immunity waning and the possible existence of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) make the situation uncertain. We developed a dynamic model of COVID-19 incorporating vaccination and immunity waning, which was calibrated by using the data of accumulative vaccine doses administered and the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 in mainland China. We explored how long the current vaccination program can prevent China in a low risk of resurgence, and how ADE affects the long-term trajectory of COVID-19 epidemics. The prediction suggests that the vaccination coverage with at least one dose reach 95.87%, and with two-doses reach 77.92% on August 31, 2021. However, even with the mass vaccination, randomly introducing infected cases in the post-vaccination period can result in large outbreaks quickly in the presence of immunity waning, particularly for SARS-CoV-2 variants with higher transmission ability. The results showed that with the current vaccination program and a proportion of 50% population wearing masks, mainland China can be protected in a low risk of resurgence till 2023/01/18. However, ADE effect and higher transmission ability for variants would significantly shorten the protective period for more than 1 year. Furthermore, intermittent outbreaks can occur while the peak values of the subsequential outbreaks are decreasing, meaning that subsequential outbreaks boosted the immunity in the population level, which further indicating that catching-up vaccination program can help to mitigate the possible outbreaks, even avoid the outbreaks. The findings reveal that integrated effects of multiple factors, including immunity waning, ADE, relaxed interventions, and higher transmission ability of variants, make the control of COVID-19 much more difficult. We should get ready for a long struggle with COVID-19, and should not totally rely on COVID-19 vaccine.