Modelling the impact of hybrid immunity on future COVID-19 epidemic waves

Thao P Le, Isobel Abell, Eamon Conway, Patricia T. Campbell, Alexandra B. Hogan, Michael J. Lydeamore, Jodie McVernon, Ivo Mueller, Camelia R. Walker, Christopher M. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), there have been multiple waves of infection and multiple rounds of vaccination rollouts. Both prior infection and vaccination can prevent future infection and reduce severity of outcomes, combining to form hybrid immunity against COVID-19 at the individual and population level. Here, we explore how different combinations of hybrid immunity affect the size and severity of near-future Omicron waves. Methods: To investigate the role of hybrid immunity, we use an agent-based model of COVID-19 transmission with waning immunity to simulate outbreaks in populations with varied past attack rates and past vaccine coverages, basing the demographics and past histories on the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region. Results: We find that if the past infection immunity is high but vaccination levels are low, then the secondary outbreak with the same variant can occur within a few months after the first outbreak; meanwhile, high vaccination levels can suppress near-term outbreaks and delay the second wave. Additionally, hybrid immunity has limited impact on future COVID-19 waves with immune-escape variants. Conclusions: Enhanced understanding of the interplay between infection and vaccine exposure can aid anticipation of future epidemic activity due to current and emergent variants, including the likely impact of responsive vaccine interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number407
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Epidemiology
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Vaccination
  • Variants

Cite this