Low-Dose Ad26.COV2.S Protection Against SARS-CoV-2 Challenge in Rhesus Macaques

bioRxiv. 2021 Jan 27;2021.01.27.428380. doi: 10.1101/2021.01.27.428380. Preprint


We previously reported that a single immunization with an adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26) vector-based vaccine expressing an optimized SARS-CoV-2 spike (Ad26.COV2.S) protected rhesus macaques against SARS-CoV-2 challenge. In this study, we evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of reduced doses of Ad26.COV2.S. 30 rhesus macaques were immunized once with 1×10 11 , 5×10 10 , 1.125×10 10 , or 2×10 9 vp Ad26.COV2.S or sham and were challenged with SARS-CoV-2 by the intranasal and intratracheal routes. Vaccine doses as low as 2×10 9 vp provided robust protection in bronchoalveolar lavage, whereas doses of 1.125×10 10 vp were required for protection in nasal swabs. Activated memory B cells as well as binding and neutralizing antibody titers following vaccination correlated with protective efficacy. At suboptimal vaccine doses, viral breakthrough was observed but did not show evidence of virologic, immunologic, histopathologic, or clinical enhancement of disease compared with sham controls. These data demonstrate that a single immunization with a relatively low dose of Ad26.COV2.S effectively protected against SARS-CoV-2 challenge in rhesus macaques. Moreover, our findings show that a higher vaccine dose may be required for protection in the upper respiratory tract compared with the lower respiratory tract.

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