Frequency of positive anti-PF4/polyanion antibody tests after COVID-19 vaccination with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and BNT162b2 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Vaccination using the adenoviral vector COVID-19 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AstraZeneca) has been associated with rare vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Affected patients test strongly positive in platelet factor 4 (PF4)/polyanion enzyme immunoassays (EIAs), and serum-induced platelet activation is maximal in the presence of PF4. We determined the frequency of anti-PF4/polyanion antibodies in healthy vaccinees and assessed whether PF4/polyanion EIA+ sera exhibit platelet-activating properties after vaccination with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (n = 138) or BNT162b2 (BioNTech/Pfizer; n = 143). In total, 19 of 281 participants tested positive for anti-PF4/polyanion antibodies postvaccination (All: 6.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 4.4-10.3]; BNT162b2: 5.6% [95% CI, 2.9-10.7]; ChAdOx1 nCoV-19: 8.0% [95% CI, 4.5% to 13.7%]). Optical densities were mostly low (between 0.5 and 1.0 units; reference range, <0.50), and none of the PF4/polyanion EIA+ samples induced platelet activation in the presence of PF4. We conclude that positive PF4/polyanion EIAs can occur after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 vaccination with both messenger RNA- and adenoviral vector-based vaccines, but many of these antibodies likely have minor (if any) clinical relevance. Accordingly, low-titer positive PF4/polyanion EIA results should be interpreted with caution when screening asymptomatic individuals after vaccination against COVID-19. Pathogenic platelet-activating antibodies that cause VITT do not occur commonly following vaccination.


  • Thiele, Thomas
  • Ulm, Lena
  • Holtfreter, Silva
  • Schönborn, Linda
  • Kuhn, Sven Olaf
  • Scheer, Christian
  • Warkentin, Ted
  • Bröker, Barbara M
  • Becker, Karsten
  • Aurich, Konstanze
  • Selleng, Kathleen
  • Hübner, Nils-Olaf
  • Greinacher, Andreas

publication date

  • July 29, 2021

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