While the standard regimen of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 includes two doses administered 3 weeks apart, some public health authorities are spacing these doses, raising concerns about efficacy. However, data indicate that a single dose can be up to 90% effective starting 14 days post-administration. To assess the mechanisms contributing to protection, we analyzed humoral and T cell responses three weeks after a single BNT162b2 dose. We observed weak neutralizing activity elicited in SARS-CoV-2 naive individuals but strong anti-receptor binding domain and spike antibodies with Fc-mediated effector functions and cellular CD4+ T cell responses. In previously infected individuals, a single dose boosted all humoral and T cell responses, with strong correlations between T helper and antibody immunity. Our results highlight the potential role of Fc-mediated effector functions and T cell responses in vaccine efficacy. They also provide support for spacing doses to vaccinate more individuals in conditions of vaccine scarcity.
Keywords: ADCC; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; T cell responses; coronavirus; humoral responses; mRNA vaccine; neutralization; spike glycoproteins; variants.
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