To evaluate the effectiveness of heterologous and homologous covid-19 vaccine regimens with and without boosting in preventing covid-19 related infection, hospital admission, and death.
Living systematic review and network meta-analysis.
World Health Organization covid-19 databases, including 38 sources of published studies and preprints.
Randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, and case-control studies.
38 WHO covid-19 databases were searched on a weekly basis from 8 March 2022. Studies that assessed the effectiveness of heterologous and homologous covid-19 vaccine regimens with or without a booster were identified. Studies were eligible when they reported the number of documented, symptomatic, severe covid-19 infections, covid-19 related hospital admissions, or covid-19 related deaths among populations that were vaccinated and unvaccinated. The primary measure was vaccine effectiveness calculated as 1-odds ratio. Secondary measures were surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) scores and the relative effects for pairwise comparisons. The risk of bias was evaluated by using the risk of bias in non-randomised studies of interventions (ROBINS-I) tool for all cohort and case-control studies. The Cochrane risk of bias tool (version 2; ROB-2) was used to assess randomised controlled trials.
The first round of the analysis comprised 53 studies. 24 combinations of covid-19 vaccine regimens were identified, of which a three dose mRNA regimen was found to be the most effective against asymptomatic and symptomatic covid-19 infections (vaccine effectiveness 96%, 95% credible interval 72% to 99%). Heterologous boosting using two dose adenovirus vector vaccines with one mRNA vaccine has a satisfactory vaccine effectiveness of 88% (59% to 97%). A homologous two dose mRNA regimen has a vaccine effectiveness of 99% (79% to 100%) in the prevention of severe covid-19 infections. Three dose mRNA is the most effective in reducing covid-19 related hospital admission (95%, 90% to 97%). The vaccine effectiveness against death in people who received three doses of mRNA vaccine remains uncertain owing to confounders. In the subgroup analyses, a three dose regimen is similarly effective in all age groups, even in the older population (≥65 years). A three dose mRNA regimen works comparably well in patients who are immunocompromised and those who are non-immunocompromised. Homologous and heterologous three dose regimens are effective in preventing infection by covid-19 variants (alpha, delta, and omicron).
An mRNA booster is recommended to supplement any primary vaccine course. Heterologous and homologous three dose regimens work comparably well in preventing covid-19 infections, even against different variants. The effectiveness of three dose vaccine regimens against covid-19 related death remains uncertain.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION
This review was not registered. The protocol is included in the supplementary document.
This article is a living systematic review that will be updated to reflect emerging evidence. Updates may occur for up to two years from the date of original publication.