Several approaches have produced an effective vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Since millions of people are exposed to influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2, it is of great interest to develop a two-in-one vaccine that will be able to protect against infection of both viruses. We have developed a hybrid vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses using influenza virus-like particles (VLP) incorporated by protein transfer with glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored SARS-CoV-2 RBD fused to GM-CSF as an adjuvant. GPI-RBD-GM-CSF fusion protein was expressed in CHO-S cells, purified and incorporated onto influenza VLPs to develop the hybrid vaccine. Our results show that the hybrid vaccine induced a strong antibody response and protected mice from both influenza virus and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 challenges, with vaccinated mice having significantly lower lung viral titers compared to naive mice. These results suggest that a hybrid vaccine strategy is a promising approach for developing multivalent vaccines to prevent influenza A and SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Keywords: GM-CSF; IL-12; RBD; SARS-CoV-2; antibodies; influenza; mice; virus-like particles.