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BACKGROUND: There are known differences in vaccine reactogenicity and immunogenicity by sex. Females have been shown to report greater reactogenicity and generate higher humoral and cellular immune responses than males following vaccination with several different vaccines. Whether this is also the case for COVID-19 vaccines is currently unknown, as COVID-19 vaccine study data disaggregated by sex are not routinely reported. Therefore, we have assessed the influence of sex on reactogenicity, immunogenicity and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. METHODS: Vaccine efficacy was assessed in 15169 volunteers enrolled into single-blind randomised controlled trials of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 in Brazil and the UK, with the primary endpoint defined as nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)-positive symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. All participants were electronically randomised to receive two standard doses of vaccine or the control product. Logistic regression models were fitted to explore the effect of age and sex on reactogenicity, and linear models fitted to log-transformed values for immunogenicity data. Reactogenicity data were taken from self-reported diaries of 788 trial participants. Pseudovirus neutralisation assay data were available from 748 participants and anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike IgG assay data from 1543 participants. FINDINGS: 7619 participants received ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and 7550 received the control. Vaccine efficacy in participants after two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (4243 females and 3376 males) was 66.1% (95% CI 55.9-73.9%) in males and 59.9% (95% CI 49.8-67.9%) in females; with no evidence of a difference in efficacy between the sexes (vaccine by sex interaction term P=0.3359). A small, statistically significant difference in anti-spike IgG was observed (adjusted GMR 1.14; 95% CI 1.04-1.26), with higher titres in females than males, but there were no statistically significant differences in other immunological endpoints. Whilst the majority of individuals reported at least one systemic reaction following a first dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, females were twice as likely as males to report any systemic reaction after a first dose (OR 1.95; 95% CI 1.37-2.77). Measured fever of 38°C or above was reported in 5% of females and 1% of males following first doses. Headache and fatigue were the most commonly reported reactions in both sexes. INTERPRETATION: Our results show that there is no evidence of difference in efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 in males and females. Greater reactogenicity in females was not associated with any difference in vaccine efficacy. FUNDING: Studies were registered with ISRCTN 90906759 (COV002) and ISRCTN 89951424 (COV003) and follow-up is ongoing. Funding was received from the UK Research and Innovation, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Innovation Fund for Medical Science, Thames Valley and South Midlands NIHR Clinical Research Network, the Lemann Foundation, Rede D'Or, the Brava and Telles Foundation, the Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior, Brazil, and AstraZeneca.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.104128

Type

Journal article

Journal

EBioMedicine

Publication Date

29/06/2022

Volume

81

Keywords

COVID-19, Clinical trials, Sex-differences, Vaccination