Bangladesh is struggling to cover its huge population due to the lack of vaccine availability. Despite reports of higher efficacy of mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, breakthrough infection cases are arising. It is highly important to understand the post-vaccination immune response and breakthrough infections in different populations so that the necessity of booster dosage can be assessed.
Background While Bangladesh has started its mass COVID-19 vaccination drive, it is struggling to cover its huge population similar to other low- and middle-income countries due to the lack of vaccine availability. One of the major remittance sources for Bangladesh is its migrant workers who are required to receive mRNA vaccines to return to their jobs. Despite reports of higher efficacy of mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, breakthrough infection cases are arising especially with the emergence of Delta variant. It is highly important to understand the post-vaccination immune response and breakthrough infections in different populations so that the necessity of booster dosage can be assessed properly. Methods We observed post BNT162b2 full vaccination immune response in a small older group (mean age= 59.5+-5.44 years) of migrant workers (n=10) for six months at the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The plasma samples from the participants were collected after 14 days, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, and 6 months of receiving the 2nd dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine. Anti S1 RBD IgG responses were measured as optical density ratios using a commercially available ELISA kit. Results All 10 of the participants were male migrant workers and none of them had a history of previous COVID-19 infection. The median antibody response [IQ1:IQ3] was 9.05 [7.53; 10.0] on day 14 then it increases to 13.6 [12.0; 14.0] at the second month which gradually decreased to a median of 8.63 [8.34; 9.37] on the 6th-month post-vaccination. There were two breakthrough infection cases after receiving the second dose and the antibody responses were highly increased in the following months. Two of the breakthrough cases were diagnosed with mild COVID-19 as the symptom duration was less than 3 days with no respiratory complications and no hospital admission were required. Conclusions The BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine produces a strong immune response that sustains at least 6 months after getting fully vaccinated. But even after getting fully vaccinated people are susceptible to breakthrough infections that are not severe and boost the immune response greatly offering a hybrid immunity from both vaccine and natural infection. Hence, it is still important to fully vaccinate a greater number of people rather than thinking of offering booster dosage to the privileged populations out of the fear of breakthrough cases. If the LMICs can quickly cover at least 80% of their population with usual priority targets (healthcare workers, migrant workers, older people, etc.) then a global risk reduction and pandemic control would be possible that will allow additional variant-specific boosters for targeted populations if evidence support.