Synthetic multiantigen MVA vaccine COH04S1 and variant-specific derivatives protect Syrian hamsters from SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants

NPJ Vaccines. 2023 Mar 16;8(1):41. doi: 10.1038/s41541-023-00640-y.


Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants continue to disrupt COVID-19 vaccine efficacy through multiple immune mechanisms including neutralizing antibody evasion. We developed COH04S1, a synthetic modified vaccinia Ankara vector that co-expresses Wuhan-Hu-1-based spike and nucleocapsid antigens. COH04S1 demonstrated efficacy against ancestral virus and Beta and Delta variants in animal models and was safe and immunogenic in a Phase 1 clinical trial. Here, we report efficacy of COH04S1 and analogous Omicron BA.1- and Beta-specific vaccines to protect Syrian hamsters from Omicron subvariants. Despite eliciting strain-specific antibody responses, all three vaccines protect hamsters from weight loss, lower respiratory tract infection, and lung pathology following challenge with Omicron BA.1 or BA.2.12.1. While the BA.1-specifc vaccine affords consistently improved efficacy compared to COH04S1 to protect against homologous challenge with BA.1, all three vaccines confer similar protection against heterologous challenge with BA.2.12.1. These results demonstrate efficacy of COH04S1 and variant-specific derivatives to confer cross-protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants.