Boosting with heterologous vaccines effectively improves protective immune responses of the inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2021 Dec;10(1):1598-1608. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2021.1957401.


Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a variety of vaccine platforms have been developed. Amongst these, inactivated vaccines have been authorized for emergency use or conditional marketing in many countries. To further enhance the protective immune responses in populations that have completed vaccination regimen, we investigated the immunogenic characteristics of different vaccine platforms and tried homologous or heterologous boost strategy post two doses of inactivated vaccines in a mouse model. Our results showed that the humoral and cellular immune responses induced by different vaccines when administered individually differ significantly. In particular, inactivated vaccines showed relatively lower level of neutralizing antibody and T cell responses, but a higher IgG2a/IgG1 ratio compared with other vaccines. Boosting with either recombinant subunit, adenovirus vectored or mRNA vaccine after two-doses of inactivated vaccine further improved both neutralizing antibody and Spike-specific Th1-type T cell responses compared to boosting with a third dose of inactivated vaccine. Our results provide new ideas for prophylactic inoculation strategy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Keywords: Heterologous; IgG subtypes; SARS-CoV-2; T cell response; inactivated; neutralizing antibody; prime-boost; vaccine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cytokines
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary*
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine*
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Mice
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Vaccines, Inactivated