Scientific article
Open access

Development of hybrid immunity during a period of high incidence of Omicron infections

CollaboratorsAzman, Andrew; Bal, Antoine; Baysson, Hélèneorcid; Bleich, Patrick; Bryand, Gaelle; Collombet, Prune; Cullati, Stéphaneorcid; D'ippolito, Paola; Dubos, Richard; Dumont, Roxane; El Merjani, Nacira; Flahault, Antoine; Francioli, Natalie; Frangville, Marion; Graindorge, Clément; Guessous, Idris; Harnal, Severine; Kaiser, Laurent; Lamour, Julien; Lescuyer, Pierreorcid; Loizeau, Andréa; Lorthe, Elsa Louise Adèle; Martinez, Chantal; Noël, Natacha; Pennacchio, Francesco; Poulain, Géraldine; Pugin, Caroline; Pullen, Nick; Richard, Aude; Richard, Viviane Adissa; Samir, Khadija; Semaani, Claire; Stringhini, Silvia; Testini, Stéphanie; Villers, Jennifer Annick M.; Wisniak, Ania; Zaballa, Maria-Eugenia
Published inInternational journal of epidemiology, vol. 52, no. 6, p. 1696-1707
Publication date2023-12-01
First online date2023-07-05


Seroprevalence and the proportion of people with neutralizing activity (functional immunity) against SARS-CoV-2 variants were high in early 2022. In this prospective, population- based, multi-region cohort study, we assessed the development of functional and hybrid immunity (induced by vaccination and infection) in the general population during this period of high incidence of infections with Omicron variants.


We randomly selected and assessed individuals aged ≥16 years from the general population in southern (n = 739) and north-eastern (n = 964) Switzerland in March 2022. We assessed them again in June/July 2022, supplemented with a random sample from western (n = 850) Switzerland. We measured SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG antibodies and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies against three variants (ancestral strain, Delta, Omicron).


Seroprevalence remained stable from March 2022 (97.6%, n = 1894) to June/July 2022 (98.4%, n = 2553). In June/July, the percentage of individuals with neutralizing capacity against ancestral strain was 94.2%, against Delta 90.8% and against Omicron 84.9%, and 50.6% developed hybrid immunity. Individuals with hybrid immunity had highest median levels of anti-spike IgG antibodies titres [4518 World Health Organization units per millilitre (WHO U/mL)] compared with those with only vaccine- (4304 WHO U/mL) or infection- (269 WHO U/mL) induced immunity, and highest neutralization capacity against ancestral strain (hybrid: 99.8%, vaccinated: 98%, infected: 47.5%), Delta (hybrid: 99%, vaccinated: 92.2%, infected: 38.7%) and Omicron (hybrid: 96.4%, vaccinated: 79.5%, infected: 47.5%).


This first study on functional and hybrid immunity in the Swiss general population after Omicron waves showed that SARS-CoV-2 has become endemic. The high levels of antibodies and neutralization support the emerging recommendations of some countries where booster vaccinations are still strongly recommended for vulnerable persons but less so for the general population.

  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Cohort
  • Functional immunity
  • Hybrid immunity
  • Infection
  • Neutralization
  • Population-based
  • Seroprevalence
  • Vaccination
Citation (ISO format)
FREI, Anja et al. Development of hybrid immunity during a period of high incidence of Omicron infections. In: International journal of epidemiology, 2023, vol. 52, n° 6, p. 1696–1707. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyad098
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0300-5771

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