Background: NVX-CoV2373 is a recombinant severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (rSARS-CoV-2) nanoparticle vaccine composed of trimeric full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoproteins and Matrix-M1 adjuvant.
Methods and findings: The phase 2 component of our randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 1 to 2 trial was designed to identify which dosing regimen of NVX-CoV2373 should move forward into late-phase studies and was based on immunogenicity and safety data through Day 35 (14 days after the second dose). The trial was conducted at 9 sites in Australia and 8 sites in the United States. Participants in 2 age groups (aged 18 to 59 and 60 to 84 years) were randomly assigned to receive either 1 or 2 intramuscular doses of 5-μg or 25-μg NVX-CoV2373 or placebo, 21 days apart. Primary endpoints were immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-spike protein response, 7-day solicited reactogenicity, and unsolicited adverse events. A key secondary endpoint was wild-type virus neutralizing antibody response. After enrollment, 1,288 participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 vaccine groups or placebo, with 1,283 participants administered at least 1 study treatment. Of these, 45% were older participants 60 to 84 years. Reactogenicity was predominantly mild to moderate in severity and of short duration (median <3 days) after first and second vaccination with NVX-CoV2373, with higher frequencies and intensity after second vaccination and with the higher dose. Reactogenicity occurred less frequently and was of lower intensity in older participants. Both 2-dose regimens of 5-μg and 25-μg NVX-CoV2373 induced robust immune responses in younger and older participants. For the 2-dose regimen of 5 μg, geometric mean titers (GMTs) for IgG anti-spike protein were 65,019 (95% confidence interval (CI) 55,485 to 76,192) and 28,137 (95% CI 21,617 to 36,623) EU/mL and for wild-type virus neutralizing antibody (with an inhibitory concentration of 50%-MN50%) were 2,201 (95% CI 1,343 to 3,608) and 981 (95% CI 560 to 1,717) titers for younger and older participants, respectively, with seroconversion rates of 100% in both age groups. Neutralizing antibody responses exceeded those seen in a panel of convalescent sera for both age groups. Study limitations include the relatively short duration of safety follow-up to date and current lack of immune persistence data beyond the primary vaccination regimen time point assessments, but these data will accumulate over time.
Conclusions: The study confirmed the phase 1 findings that the 2-dose regimen of 5-μg NVX-CoV2373 is highly immunogenic and well tolerated in younger adults. In addition, in older adults, the 2-dose regimen of 5 μg was also well tolerated and showed sufficient immunogenicity to support its use in late-phase efficacy studies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04368988.