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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) mRNA vaccines elicit higher levels of antibodies compared to natural SARS-CoV-2 infections in most individuals; however, the specificities of antibodies elicited by vaccination versus infection remain incompletely understood. Here, we characterized the magnitude and specificity of SARS-CoV-2 spike-reactive antibodies from 10 acutely infected health care workers and 23 participants who received mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. We found that infection and primary mRNA vaccination elicited S1 and S2-reactive antibodies, while secondary vaccination boosted mostly S1 antibodies. Using magnetic bead-based absorption assays, we found that SARS-CoV-2 infections elicited a large proportion of original antigenic sin-like antibodies that bound efficiently to common seasonal human coronaviruses but poorly to SARS-CoV-2. In converse, vaccination only modestly boosted antibodies reactive to common seasonal human coronaviruses and these antibodies bound efficiently to SARS-CoV-2. Our data indicate that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccinations elicit fundamentally different antibody responses compared to SARS-CoV-2 infections.

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