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COVID-19 Vaccination from First Dose to Booster: New Insights into the Frequency of Most Common Systemic Adverse Events and Possible Booster Nocebo Effects based on a Systematic Review | Abstract
Journal of Clinical Trials

Journal of Clinical Trials
Open Access

ISSN: 2167-0870

+44 20 3868 9735

Abstract

COVID-19 Vaccination from First Dose to Booster: New Insights into the Frequency of Most Common Systemic Adverse Events and Possible Booster Nocebo Effects based on a Systematic Review

Claudia Behrens, Maria Samii-Moghadam, Tatiana Gasperazzo, Anna M Gross, Jack Mitchell and Johannes B Lampe*

Background: Based on placebo data, it has been recently demonstrated that the frequencies of most common adverse events (AEs) of COVID-19 vaccination are overestimated due to negative expectation bias of vaccine recipients (nocebo effect). Since booster studies lack comparators, estimating the extent of the nocebo effect is difficult. We aimed to overcome this obstacle through a systematic comparison of most common AE frequencies across vaccine doses (first, second, booster), age groups, and vaccine vs. placebo arms.

Methods: We systematically assessed systemic AEs in approved COVID-19 vaccines according to the PRISMA guidelines. All documents regarding COVID-19 vaccines with a booster dose authorized by the FDA (cutoff date 19 November 2021) were systematically searched on PubMed and the FDA website. Solicited systemic AEs from all documents supporting approval/ authorization were collected. After standardization of doses and age groups, AE frequencies were compared between vaccine and placebo.

Findings: Two trials were identified for BNT162b2 (n=21,785 participants), two for mRNA-1273 (n=22,324), and one for Ad26.COV2.S (n=4,085). Fever cases dropped to about half with the booster dose in all vaccines, whereas all other AE frequencies were similar to the preceding dose. Almost no fever cases occurred with placebo (first/second dose); all other systemic AEs occurred at high frequencies. After subtracting placebo arm values from vaccine values, the frequencies for the various AEs were roughly comparable within each dose for each vaccine.

Interpretation: Fever is the only solicited systemic AE that can be assessed objectively. It occurs about 50% less often with the booster than with the preceding dose. This may indirectly indicate a considerable overestimation of systemic AEs in the case of booster vaccinations and a pronounced nocebo effect. The nocebo effect appears to substantially contribute to the differences in the frequencies of the various systemic AEs.

Published Date: 2022-02-04; Received Date: 2022-01-03