Effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are urgently needed. While most vaccine strategies have focused on systemic immunization, here we compared the protective efficacy of two adjuvanted subunit vaccines with spike protein S1: an intramuscular (IM)- primed /boosted vaccine and an IM-primed/intranasal (IN)-boosted mucosal vaccine, in rhesus macaques. The IM-alum-only vaccine induced robust binding and neutralizing antibody and persistent cellular immunity systemically and mucosally, while IN boosting with nanoparticles including IL-15 and TLR agonists elicited weaker T-cell and antibody responses, but higher dimeric IgA and IFNa. Nevertheless, following SARS-CoV-2 challenge, neither group showed detectable subgenomic RNA in upper or lower respiratory tracts vs naïve controls, indicating full protection against viral replication. Though mucosal and systemic protective mechanisms may differ, results demonstrate both vaccines can protect against respiratory SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The mucosal vaccine was safe after multiple doses and cleared the input virus more efficiently in the nasal cavity, and thus may act as a potent complementary reinforcing boost for conventional systemic vaccines to provide overall better protection.
Yongjun Sui, Jianping Li, Roushu Zhang, Sunaina Kiran Prabhu, Hanne Andersen Elyard, David Venzon, Anthony Cook, Renita Elizabeth Brown, Elyse Teow, Jason Velasco, Jack Greenhouse, Tammy Putmon-Taylor, Tracey-Ann V. Campbell, Laurent Pessaint, Ian N. Moore, Laurel A. Lagenaur, James D. Talton, Matthew W. Breed, Joshua Kramer, Kevin W. Bock, Mahnaz Minai, Bianca M. Nagata, Mark G. Lewis, Lai-Xi Wang, Jay A. Berzofsky