Recently approved vaccines have already shown remarkable protection in limiting SARS-CoV-2 associated disease. However, immunologic mechanism(s) of protection, as well as how boosting alters immunity to wildtype and newly emerging strains, remain incompletely understood. Here we deeply profiled the humoral immune response in a cohort of non-human primates immunized with a stable recombinant full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein (NVX-CoV2373) at two dose levels, administered as a single or two-dose regimen with a saponin-based adjuvant Matrix-M™. While antigen dose had some effect on Fc-effector profiles, both antigen dose and boosting significantly altered overall titers, neutralization and Fc-effector profiles, driving unique vaccine-induced antibody fingerprints. Combined differences in antibody effector functions and neutralization were strongly associated with distinct levels of protection in the upper and lower respiratory tract, pointing to the presence of combined, but distinct, compartment-specific neutralization and Fc-mechanisms as key determinants of protective immunity against infection. Moreover, NVX-CoV2373 elicited antibodies functionally target emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, collectively pointing to the critical collaborative role for Fab and Fc in driving maximal protection against SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, the data presented here suggest that a single dose may prevent disease, but that two doses may be essential to block further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants.
Highlights: NVX-CoV2373 subunit vaccine elicits receptor blocking, virus neutralizing antibodies, and Fc-effector functional antibodies.The vaccine protects against respiratory tract infection and virus shedding in non-human primates (NHPs).Both neutralizing and Fc-effector functions contribute to protection, potentially through different mechanisms in the upper and lower respiratory tract.Both macaque and human vaccine-induced antibodies exhibit altered Fc-receptor binding to emerging mutants.