Immunogenicity and Safety of a Combined Intramuscular/Intranasal Recombinant Spike Protein COVID-19 Vaccine (RCP) in Healthy Adults Aged 18 to 55 Years Old: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase I Trial

Vaccines (Basel). 2023 Feb 16;11(2):455. doi: 10.3390/vaccines11020455.


Objectives: This study aimed to determine the safety and immunogenicity of a combined intramuscular/intranasal recombinant spike protein COVID-19 vaccine (RCP). Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase I trial. Three vaccine strengths were compared with an adjuvant-only preparation. It included two intramuscular and a third intranasal dose. Eligible participants were followed for adverse reactions. Specific IgG, secretory IgA, neutralizing antibodies, and cell-mediated immunity were assessed. Results: A total of 153 participants were enrolled (13 sentinels, 120 randomized, 20 non-randomized open-labeled for IgA assessment). No related serious adverse event was observed. The geometric mean ratios (GMRs) and 95% CI for serum neutralizing antibodies compared with placebo two weeks after the second injection were 5.82 (1.46-23.13), 11.12 (2.74-45.09), and 20.70 (5.05-84.76) in 5, 10, and 20 µg vaccine groups, respectively. The GMR for anti-RBD IgA in mucosal fluid two weeks after the intranasal dose was 23.27 (21.27-25.45) in the 10 µg vaccine group. The humoral responses were sustained for up to five months. All vaccine strengths indicated a strong T-helper 1 response. Conclusion: RCP is safe and creates strong and durable humoral and cellular immunity and good mucosal immune response in its 10 µg /200 µL vaccine strengths. Trial registration: IRCT20201214049709N1.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; immune response; immunogenicity; intranasal vaccine; recombinant vaccine.

Grants and funding

The sponsor of this study (Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute) helped with the design and performed the immunogenicity tests but had no role in data collection, data management, analysis, interpretation, and writing of the report. These were completed by the IUMS clinical trial center. The immunology lab was blinded to the identity of the participants in all blood specimens (see randomization and masking section).