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In summer 2022, SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.5 became dominant in Europe. In vitro studies have shown a large reduction of antibody neutralisation for this variant.


We aimed to investigate differences in protection from previous infection and/or vaccination against infection with Omicron BA.4/5 vs BA.2.


We employed a case-only approach including positive PCR tests from community testing between 2 May and 24 July 2022 that were tested for S gene target failure (SGTF), which distinguishes BA.4/5 from BA.2 infection. Previous infections were categorised by variant using whole genome sequencing or SGTF. We estimated by logistic regression the association of SGTF with vaccination and/or previous infection, and of SGTF of the current infection with the variant of the previous infection, adjusting for testing week, age group and sex.


The percentage of registered previous SARS-CoV-2 infections was higher among 19,836 persons infected with Omicron BA.4/5 than among 7,052 persons infected with BA.2 (31.3% vs 20.0%). Adjusting for testing week, age group and sex, the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) was 1.4 (95% CI: 1.3–1.5). The distribution of vaccination status did not differ for BA.4/5 vs BA.2 infections (aOR = 1.1 for primary and booster vaccination). Among persons with a previous infection, those currently infected with BA4/5 had a shorter interval between infections, and the previous infection was more often caused by BA.1, compared with those currently infected with BA.2 (aOR = 1.9; 95% CI: 1.5–2.6).


Our results suggest immunity induced by BA.1 is less effective against BA.4/5 infection than against BA.2 infection.


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