Single-cycle SARS-CoV-2 vaccine elicits high protection and sterilizing immunity in hamsters : [Preprint]

Vaccines have been central in ending the COVID-19 pandemic, but newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants increasingly escape first-generation vaccine protection. To fill this gap, live particle-based vaccines mimicking natural infection aim at protecting against a broader spectrum of virus variants. We designed “single-cycle SARS-CoV-2 viruses” (SCVs) that lack essential viral genes, possess superior immune-modulatory features and provide an excellent safety profile in the Syrian hamster model. All intranasally vaccinated animals were fully protected against an autologous challenge with SARS-CoV-2 virus using an Envelope-gene-deleted vaccine candidate. By deleting key immune-downregulating genes, sterilizing immunity was achieved with an advanced candidate without virus spread to contact animals. Furthermore, vaccinated animals were protected from SARS-CoV-2 characteristic tissue inflammation and lung damage. Hence, SCVs have the potential to induce broad and durable protection against COVID-19 superior to a natural infection.

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