Giorgio Quer et al. –


The ability to identify who does or does not experience the intended immune response following vaccination could be of great value in not only managing the global trajectory of COVID-19 but also helping guide future vaccine development. Vaccine reactogenicity can potentially lead to detectable physiologic changes, thus we postulated that we could detect an individual’s initial physiologic response to a vaccine by tracking changes relative to their pre-vaccine baseline using consumer wearable devices. We explored this possibility using a smartphone app-based research platform that enabled volunteers (39,701 individuals) to share their smartwatch data, as well as self-report, when appropriate, any symptoms, COVID-19 test results, and vaccination information. Of 7728 individuals who reported at least one vaccination dose, 7298 received an mRNA vaccine, and 5674 provided adequate data from the peri-vaccine period for analysis. We found that in most individuals, resting heart rate (RHR) increased with respect to their individual baseline after vaccination, peaked on day 2, and returned to normal by day 6. This increase in RHR was greater than one standard deviation above individuals’ normal daily pattern in 47% of participants after their second vaccine dose. Consistent with other reports of subjective reactogenicity following vaccination, we measured a significantly stronger effect after the second dose relative to the first, except those who previously tested positive to COVID-19, and a more pronounced increase for individuals who received the Moderna vaccine. Females, after the first dose only, and those aged <40 years, also experienced a greater objective response after adjusting for possible confounding factors. These early findings show that it is possible to detect subtle, but important changes from an individual’s normal as objective evidence of reactogenicity, which, with further work, could prove useful as a surrogate for vaccine-induced immune response.

Read the full article in npj Digital Medicine.