Efficient maternal to neonatal transfer of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

J Clin Invest. 2021 Jul 1;131(13):e150319. doi: 10.1172/JCI150319.


BACKGROUNDThe significant risks posed to mothers and fetuses by COVID-19 in pregnancy have sparked a worldwide debate surrounding the pros and cons of antenatal SARS-CoV-2 inoculation, as we lack sufficient evidence regarding vaccine effectiveness in pregnant women and their offspring. We aimed to provide substantial evidence for the effect of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine versus native infection on maternal humoral, as well as transplacentally acquired fetal immune response, potentially providing newborn protection.METHODSA multicenter study where parturients presenting for delivery were recruited at 8 medical centers across Israel and assigned to 3 study groups: vaccinated (n = 86); PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infected during pregnancy (n = 65), and unvaccinated noninfected controls (n = 62). Maternal and fetal blood samples were collected from parturients prior to delivery and from the umbilical cord following delivery, respectively. Sera IgG and IgM titers were measured using the Milliplex MAP SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Panel (for S1, S2, RBD, and N).RESULTSThe BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine elicits strong maternal humoral IgG response (anti-S and RBD) that crosses the placenta barrier and approaches maternal titers in the fetus within 15 days following the first dose. Maternal to neonatal anti-COVID-19 antibodies ratio did not differ when comparing sensitization (vaccine vs. infection). IgG transfer ratio at birth was significantly lower for third-trimester as compared with second trimester infection. Lastly, fetal IgM response was detected in 5 neonates, all in the infected group.CONCLUSIONAntenatal BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination induces a robust maternal humoral response that effectively transfers to the fetus, supporting the role of vaccination during pregnancy.FUNDINGIsrael Science Foundation and the Weizmann Institute Fondazione Henry Krenter.

Keywords: COVID-19; Immunoglobulins; Obstetrics/gynecology; Reproductive Biology.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • BNT162 Vaccine