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The adaptive immunity against SARS-CoV-2 prototype strain and Omicron sublineages induced by BA.1 breakthrough infection in vaccinees of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines have not been well characterized. Here, we report that BA.1 breakthrough infection induced mucosal sIgA and resulted in higher IgG titers against prototype strain and Omicron sublineages in vaccinees than in vaccine naïve-infected individuals. BA.1 breakthrough infection boosted antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis to prototype strain and BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, and BA.2.75 but not BA.4/5 and induced neutralization against prototype strain and BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.2.75, and BA.4/5 but not BF.7, BQ.1, and XBB. In total, BA.1 breakthrough infection individuals produced less extensive sIgA, plasma IgG and NAb responses against Omicron sublineages compared with those against prototype strain. Further, BA.1 breakthrough infection induced recall B cell response to prototype strain and Omicron variant, primarily targeting memory B cells producing conserved epitopes. Memory T cell responses against Omicron is largely preserved. Individuals with vaccine booster did not induce more beneficial immune responses to Omicron sublineages upon BA.1 breakthrough infection than those with primary vaccine dose only. The breakthrough infection individuals produced stronger adaptive immunity than those of inactivated vaccine-healthy individuals. These data have important implications for understanding the vaccine effectiveness and adaptive immunity to breakthrough infection in individuals fully immunized with inactivated vaccines. Omicron sublineages, especially for those emerged after BA.4/5 strain, evade NAb responses induced by BA.1 breakthrough infection. It is urgent to optimize the vaccine immunogen design and formulations to SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Original publication




Journal article


Emerging microbes & infections

Publication Date





National Health Commission Key Laboratory of Systems Biology of Pathogens and Christophe Mérieux Laboratory, Institute of Pathogen Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, People's Republic of China.


T-Lymphocytes, Humans, Immunoglobulin A, Secretory, Immunoglobulin G, Antibodies, Viral, Antibodies, Neutralizing, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Vaccines, Breakthrough Infections