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BACKGROUND: This was the first study to investigate the reactogenicity and immunogenicity of heterologous or fractional second dose COVID-19 vaccine regimens in adolescents. METHODS: A phase II, single-blind, multi-centre, randomised-controlled trial recruited across seven UK sites from September to November 2021, with follow-up visits to August 2022. Healthy 12-to-16 years olds were randomised (1:1:1) to either 30 µg BNT162b2 (BNT-30), 10 µg BNT162b2 (BNT-10), or NVX-CoV2373 (NVX), 8 weeks after a first 30 µg dose of BNT162b2. The primary outcome was solicited systemic reactions in the week following vaccination. Secondary outcomes included immunogenicity and safety. 'Breakthrough infection' analyses were exploratory. FINDINGS: 148 participants were recruited (median age 14 years old, 62% female, 26% anti-nucleocapsid IgG seropositive pre-second dose); 132 participants received a second dose. Reactions were mostly mild-to-moderate, with lower rates in BNT-10 recipients. No vaccine-related serious adverse events occurred. Compared to BNT-30, at 28 days post-second dose anti-spike antibody responses were similar for NVX (adjusted geometric mean ratio [aGMR]) 1.09 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.84, 1.42] and lower for BNT-10 (aGMR 0.78 [95% CI: 0.61, 0.99]). For Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, the neutralising antibody titres for BNT-30 at day 28 were similar for BNT-10 (aGMR 1.0 [95% CI: 0.65, 1.54] and 1.02 [95% CI: 0.71, 1.48], respectively), but higher for NVX (aGMR 1.7 [95% CI: 1.07, 2.69] and 1.43 [95% CI: 0.96, 2.12], respectively). Compared to BNT-30, cellular immune responses were greatest for NVX (aGMR 1.73 [95% CI: 0.94, 3.18]), and lowest for BNT-10 (aGMR 0.65 [95% CI: 0.37, 1.15]) at 14 days post-second dose. Cellular responses were similar across the study arms by day 236 post-second dose. Amongst SARS-CoV-2 infection naïve participants, NVX participants had an 89% reduction in risk of self-reported 'breakthrough infection' compared to BNT-30 (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.11 [95% CI: 0.01, 0.86]) up until day 132 after second dose. BNT-10 recipients were more likely to have a 'breakthrough infection' compared to BNT-30 (aHR 2.14 [95% CI: 1.02, 4.51]) up to day 132 and day 236 post-second dose. Antibody responses at 132 and 236 days after second dose were similar for all vaccine schedules. INTERPRETATION: Heterologous and fractional dose COVID-19 vaccine schedules in adolescents are safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic. The enhanced performance of the heterologous schedule using NVX-CoV2373 against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant suggests this mRNA prime and protein-subunit boost schedule may provide a greater breadth of protection than the licensed homologous schedule. FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research and Vaccine Task Force. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number registry: 12348322.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect

Publication Date



Adolescents, BNT162b2, Breakthrough infection, COVID-19, Heterologous, Immunisation, Immunity, NVXCoV2373, SARS-CoV-2, Vaccination