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[Scholarly Article] Early Omicron infection is associated with increased reinfection risk in older adults in long-term care and retirement facilities

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Older adults are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infection and severe disease, especially those in congregate living settings, despite high SARS-CoV-2 vaccine coverage. It is unclear whether hybrid immunity (combined vaccination and infection) after one Omicron infection provides increased protection against subsequent Omicron reinfection in older adults.


Incidence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infection was examined in 750 vaccinated residents of long-term care and retirement homes in the observational cohort COVID in Long-Term Care Study in Ontario, Canada, within a 75-day period (July to September 2022). Risk of infection was assessed by Cox proportional hazards regression. Serum anti-spike and anti-RBD SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgA antibodies, microneutralization titres, and spike-specific T cell memory responses, were examined in a subset of 318 residents within the preceding three months.


133 of 750 participants (17.7%) had a PCR-confirmed Omicron infection during the observation period. Increased infection risk was associated with prior Omicron infection (at 9–29 days: 47.67 [23.73–95.76]), and this was not attributed to days since fourth vaccination (1.00 [1.00–1.01]) or residence outbreaks (>6 compared to ≤6: 0.95 [0.37–2.41]). Instead, reinfected participants had lower serum neutralizing antibodies to ancestral and Omicron BA.1 SARS-CoV-2, and lower anti-RBD IgG and IgA antibodies, after their initial Omicron infection.


Counterintuitively, SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infection was associated with increased risk of Omicron reinfection in residents of long-term care and retirement homes. Less robust humoral hybrid immune responses in older adults may contribute to risk of Omicron reinfection.

  • By

    Jessica A. Breznik et al

  • Published

    Aug 21, 2023

  • Subject Area
    • COVID-19
  • Audience
    • Academics
    • Caregivers, Seniors & Volunteers
    • Service Providers (Non-profits, Community Organizations, Local government)
    • Health Authorities
  • Category
    • Research & Reports
    • Research & Evidence


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