SARS-CoV-2 infection-induced immunity reduces rates of reinfection and hospitalization caused by the Delta or Omicron variants

Marc Antoine de La Vega, Efstathia Polychronopoulou, Ara XIII, Zhe Ding, Tong Chen, Qixing Liu, Jiaming Lan, Marie Edith Nepveu-Traversy, Hugues Fausther-Bovendo, Mohammed F. Zaidan, Gary Wong, Gulshan Sharma, Gary P. Kobinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During a pandemic, effective vaccines are typically in short supply, particularly at onset intervals when the wave is accelerating. We conducted an observational, retrospective analysis of aggregated data from all patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the waves caused by the Delta and Omicron variants, stratified based on their known previous infection and vaccination status, throughout the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) network. Next, the immunity statuses within each medical parameter were compared to naïve individuals for the effective decrease of occurrence. Lastly, we conducted studies using mice and pre-pandemic human samples for IgG responses to viral nucleocapsid compared to spike protein toward showing a functional component supportive of the medical data results in relation to the immunity types. During the Delta and Omicron waves, both infection-induced and hybrid immunities were associated with a trend of equal or greater decrease of occurrence than vaccine-induced immunity in hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and deaths in comparison to those without pre-existing immunity, with hybrid immunity often trending with the greatest decrease. Compared to individuals without pre-existing immunity, those vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 had a significantly reduced incidence of COVID-19, as well as all subsequent medical parameters. Though vaccination best reduces health risks associated with initial infection toward acquiring immunity, our findings suggest infection-induced immunity is as or more effective than vaccination in reducing the severity of reinfection from the Delta or Omicron variants, which should inform public health response at pandemic onset, particularly when triaging towards the allotment of in-demand vaccinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2169198
JournalEmerging Microbes and Infections
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • hybrid immunity
  • infection-induced immunity
  • vaccination
  • vaccine-induced immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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