Authors: Khan K, Lustig G, Bernstein M, Archary D, Cele S, Karim F, Smith M, Ganga Y, Jule Z, Reedoy K, Miya Y, Mthabela N, Magula NP, Lessells R, de Oliveira T, Gosnell BI, Karim SA, Garrett N, Hanekom W, Gail-Bekker L, Gray G, Blackburn JM, Moosa MS, Sigal A; COMMIT-KZN Team
Background: People living with HIV (PLWH) have been reported to have a higher risk of more severe Covid-19 disease and death. We assessed the ability of the Ad26.CoV2.S vaccine to elicit neutralizing activity against the Delta variant in PLWH relative to HIV-negative individuals. We also examined effects of HIV status and suppression on Delta neutralization response in SARS-CoV-2 infected unvaccinated participants.
Methods: We enrolled participants who vaccinated through the SISONKE South African clinical trial of the Ad26.CoV2.S vaccine in health care workers (HCW). PLWH in this group had well controlled HIV infection. We also enrolled unvaccinated participants previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. Neutralization capacity was assessed by a live virus neutralization assay of the Delta variant.
Results: Majority of Ad26.CoV2.S vaccinated HCW were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. In this group, Delta variant neutralization was 9-fold higher compared to the infected only group and 26-fold higher relative to the vaccinated only group. No decrease in Delta variant neutralization was observed in PLWH relative to HIV-negative participants. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infected, unvaccinated PLWH showed 7-fold lower neutralization and a higher frequency of non-responders, with the highest frequency of non-responders in people with HIV viremia. Vaccinated only participants showed low neutralization capacity.
Conclusions: The neutralization response of the Delta variant following Ad26.CoV2.S vaccination in PLWH with well controlled HIV was not inferior to HIV-negative participants, irrespective of past SARS-CoV-2 infection. In SARS-CoV-2 infected and non-vaccinated participants, HIV infection reduced the neutralization response to SARS-CoV-2, with the strongest reduction in HIV viremic individuals.