High–temporal resolution profiling reveals distinct immune trajectories following the first and second doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines


Knowledge of the mechanisms underpinning the development of protective immunity conferred by mRNA vaccines is fragmentary. Here, we investigated responses to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mRNA vaccination via high–temporal resolution blood transcriptome profiling. The first vaccine dose elicited modest interferon and adaptive immune responses, which peaked on days 2 and 5, respectively. The second vaccine dose, in contrast, elicited sharp day 1 interferon, inflammation, and erythroid cell responses, followed by a day 5 plasmablast response. Both post-first and post-second dose interferon signatures were associated with the subsequent development of antibody responses. Yet, we observed distinct interferon response patterns after each of the doses that may reflect quantitative or qualitative differences in interferon induction. Distinct interferon response phenotypes were also observed in patients with COVID-19 and were associated with severity and differences in duration of intensive care. Together, this study also highlights the benefits of adopting high-frequency sampling protocols in profiling vaccine-elicited immune responses.

Science Advances, 8(45): eabp9961