Diphtheria And Tetanus Vaccination History Is Associated With Lower Odds of COVID-19 Hospitalization

J. Monereo-Sanchez*, J.J. Luykx, J. Pinzon-Espinosa, G. Richard, E. Motazedi, L.T. Westlye, O.A. Andreassen, D. van der Meer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundCOVID-19 is characterized by strikingly large, mostly unexplained, interindividual variation in symptom severity: while some individuals remain nearly asymptomatic, others suffer from severe respiratory failure. Previous vaccinations for other pathogens, in particular tetanus, may partly explain this variation, possibly by readying the immune system.</p> MethodsWe made use of data on COVID-19 testing from 103,049 participants of the UK Biobank (mean age 71.5 years, 54.2% female), coupled to immunization records of the last ten years. Using logistic regression, covarying for age, sex, respiratory disease diagnosis, and socioeconomic status, we tested whether individuals vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis, differed from individuals that had only received other vaccinations on 1) undergoing a COVID-19 test, 2) being diagnosed with COVID-19, and 3) whether they developed severe COVID-19 symptoms.</p> ResultsWe found that individuals with registered diphtheria or tetanus vaccinations are less likely to develop severe COVID-19 than people who had only received other vaccinations (diphtheria odds ratio (OR)=0.47, p-value=5.3*10(-5); tetanus OR=0.52, p-value=1.2*10(-4)).</p> DiscussionThese results indicate that a history of diphtheria or tetanus vaccinations is associated with less severe manifestations of COVID-19. These vaccinations may protect against severe COVID-19 symptoms by stimulating the immune system. We note the correlational nature of these results, yet the possibility that these vaccinations may influence the severity of COVID-19 warrants follow-up investigations.</p>
Original languageEnglish
Article number749264
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021


  • COVID-19
  • vaccination
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • clinical variation

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