Objective: To compare the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech) and the ChAdOx1 (Oxford-AstraZeneca) covid-19 vaccines against infection and covid-19 disease in health and social care workers. Design: Cohort study, emulating a comparative effectiveness trial, on behalf of NHS England. Setting: Linked primary care, hospital, and covid-19 surveillance records available within the OpenSAFELY-TPP research platform, covering a period when the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant was dominant. Participants: 317 341 health and social care workers vaccinated between 4 January and 28 February 2021, registered with a general practice using the TPP SystmOne clinical information system in England, and not clinically extremely vulnerable. Interventions: Vaccination with either BNT162b2 or ChAdOx1 administered as part of the national covid-19 vaccine roll-out. Main outcome measures: Recorded SARS-CoV-2 positive test, or covid-19 related attendance at an accident and emergency (A&E) department or hospital admission occurring within 20 weeks of receipt of the first vaccine dose. Results: Over the duration of 118 771 person-years of follow-up there were 6962 positive SARS-CoV-2 tests, 282 covid-19 related A&E attendances, and 166 covid-19 related hospital admissions. The cumulative incidence of each outcome was similar for both vaccines during the first 20 weeks after vaccination. The cumulative incidence of recorded SARS-CoV-2 infection 20 weeks after first-dose vaccination with BNT162b2 was 21.7 per 1000 people (95% confidence interval 20.9 to 22.4) and with ChAdOx1 was 23.7 (21.8 to 25.6), representing a difference of 2.04 per 1000 people (0.04 to 4.04). The difference in the cumulative incidence per 1000 people of covid-19 related A&E attendance at 20 weeks was 0.06 per 1000 people (95% CI-0.31 to 0.43). For covid-19 related hospital admission, this difference was 0.11 per 1000 people (-0.22 to 0.44). Conclusions: In this cohort of healthcare workers where we would not anticipate vaccine type to be related to health status, we found no substantial differences in the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection or covid-19 disease up to 20 weeks after vaccination. Incidence dropped sharply at 3-4 weeks after vaccination, and there were few covid-19 related hospital attendance and admission events after this period. This is in line with expected onset of vaccine induced immunity and suggests strong protection against Alpha variant covid-19 disease for both vaccines in this relatively young and healthy population of healthcare workers.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Hulme, W., Williamson, E., Green, A., Bhaskaran, K., McDonald, H., Rentsch, C., Schultze, A., Tazare, J., Curtis, H., Walker, A., Tomlinson, L., Palmer, T., Horne, E., Mackenna, B., Morton, C., Mehrkar, A., Morley, J., Fisher, L., Bacon, S., Evans, D., Inglesby, P., Hickman, G., Davy, S., Ward, T., Croker, R., Eggo, R., Wong, A., Mathur, R., Wing, K., Forbes, H., Grint, D., Douglas, I., Evans, S., Smeeth, L., Bates, C., Cockburn, J., Parry, J., Hester, F., Harper, S., Sterne, J., Hernán, M. & Goldacre, B. 2022, 'Comparative effectiveness of ChAdOx1 versus BNT162b2 covid-19 vaccines in health and social care workers in England: cohort study using OpenSAFELY', The BMJ, 378, article no: e068946. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-068946

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