Effectiveness of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 infections among healthcare personnel in Pakistan: A test-negative case-control study

Document Type



Family Medicine; Medical College Pakistan; Community Health Sciences; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Internal Medicine


Objective: During the COVID-19 pandemic, several vaccines that were efficacious in randomised controlled trials were authorised for mass vaccination. In developing countries, inactivated vaccines were widely administered. While inactivated vaccines have been deemed effective in reducing disease severity, for healthcare personnel (HCP), effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infections is essential to reduce the risk to vulnerable patients and ensure a stable healthcare workforce. There are limited studies examining inactivated vaccines' effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) in real-world settings. We estimated the effectiveness of inactivated vaccines (BBIBP-CorV and CoronaVac) against reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR)-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections among HCP in the setting of emerging SARS-CoV-2 VOCs in Pakistan.
Design: A retrospective matched, test-negative case-control analysis using existing data from an Employee Health database on HCP at a large, private healthcare system in Pakistan.
Participants: 4599 HCP were tested between 1 April and 30 September 2021. Each case (PCR positive) was matched to two to six controls (PCR negative) by the date of the RT-PCR test (±7 days) to reduce bias.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary outcome was vaccine effectiveness (VE) against SARS-CoV-2 infection. The secondary outcome was VE against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Per cent VE was calculated using (1-OR)*100, with the OR of getting a PCR-confirmed SARS-COV-2 infection estimated using conditional logistic regression, after adjusting for age, gender, work area and history of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Results: Inactivated vaccines were ineffective against SARS-CoV-2 infections after receiving the first dose (VE 17%, 95% CI -10, 39; p=0.261). They showed modest effectiveness ≥14 days after the second dose against SARS-CoV-2 infections (VE 30%, 95% CI 7, 48; p=0.015) and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections (VE 33%, 95% CI 6, 52; p=0.002).
Conclusions: Inactivated vaccines show modest effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infections in the setting of emerging VOCs. This builds a strong case for boosters and/or additional vaccination.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Open