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1.
Vaccines ; 10(5):796, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1857259

ABSTRACT

Waning immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and the emergence of variants, especially of the most distant variant, Omicron, affect titers of neutralizing antibodies in the sera of vaccinated individuals. Thus, two vaccinations with the mRNA vaccine BNT162b fail to induce neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant. A first booster vaccination increases Omicron-RBD-binding IgG and IgA and neutralizing capacity. In comparison, the Wuhan isolate titers of the Omicron variant binding antibodies are 8.5 lower. After a third vaccination, induction of Omicron-RBD- and Wuhan-RBD-binding antibodies follows the same kinetic. Five to six months after the third vaccination, there are still Omicron-RBD-binding antibodies detectable, but 35.9 percent of the analyzed sera fail to neutralize the Omicron variant, while all sera efficiently neutralize the Delta isolate. In the case of the Wuhan-RBD, a significantly larger number of stable antigen–antibody complexes is formed than in Omicron-RBD. A fourth vaccination with mRNA-1273 temporarily restores levels of Omicron-, Delta- and Wuhan-specific antibodies. Comparing different booster strategies revealed that the breadth of the immune response is not affected by the vaccination regimen. Taken together, these data indicate that booster vaccinations (third and fourth dose) increase the breadth of the immune response, but there is a qualitative difference of antibodies with respect to the stability of antigen–antibody complexes and persistence of antibody titers.

2.
Vaccines ; 10(5):794, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1857250

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron has spread world-wide and is responsible for rapid increases in infections, including in populations with high vaccination rates. Here, we analysed in the sera of vaccinated individuals the antibody binding to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein and the neutralization of wild-type (WT), Delta (B.1.617.2), and Omicron (B.1.1.529;BA.1) pseudotyped vectors. Although sera from individuals immunized with vector vaccines (Vaxzevria;AZ and COVID-19 Janssen, Ad26.COV2.S;J&J) were able to bind and neutralize WT and Delta, they showed only background levels towards Omicron. In contrast, mRNA (Comirnaty;BNT) or heterologous (AZ/BNT) vaccines induced weak, but detectable responses against Omicron. While RBD-binding antibody levels decreased significantly six months after full vaccination, the SARS-CoV-2 RBD-directed avidity remained constant. However, this still coincided with a significant decrease in neutralization activity against all variants. A third booster vaccination with BNT significantly increased the humoral immune responses against all tested variants, including Omicron. In conclusion, only vaccination schedules that included at least one dose of mRNA vaccine and especially an mRNA booster vaccination induced sufficient antibody levels with neutralization capacity against multiple variants, including Omicron.

3.
Viruses ; 14(2)2022 02 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1705787

ABSTRACT

In light of an increasing number of vaccinated and convalescent individuals, there is a major need for the development of robust methods for the quantification of neutralizing antibodies; although, a defined correlate of protection is still missing. Sera from hospitalized COVID-19 patients suffering or not suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were comparatively analyzed by plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) and pseudotype-based neutralization assays to quantify their neutralizing capacity. The two neutralization assays showed comparable data. In case of the non-ARDS sera, there was a distinct correlation between the data from the neutralization assays on the one hand, and enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA), as well as biophysical analyses, on the other hand. As such, surface plasmon resonance (SPR)-based assays for quantification of binding antibodies or analysis of the stability of the antigen-antibody interaction and inhibition of syncytium formation, determined by cell fusion assays, were performed. In the case of ARDS sera, which are characterized by a significantly higher fraction of RBD-binding IgA antibodies, there is a clear correlation between the neutralization assays and the ELISA data. In contrast to this, a less clear correlation between the biophysical analyses on the one hand and ELISAs and neutralization assays on the other hand was observed, which might be explained by the heterogeneity of the antibodies. To conclude, for less complex immune sera-as in cases of non-ARDS sera-combinations of titer quantification by ELISA with inhibition of syncytium formation, SPR-based analysis of antibody binding, determination of the stability of the antigen-antibody complex, and competition of the RBD-ACE2 binding represent alternatives to the classic PRNT for analysis of the neutralizing potential of SARS-CoV-2-specific sera, without the requirement for a BSL3 facility.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , Convalescence , Immune Sera/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/blood , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Female , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Immune Sera/immunology , Immunity, Humoral , Male , Middle Aged , Neutralization Tests
4.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(12)2021 Dec 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1542839

ABSTRACT

Many of the approved SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are based on a stabilized variant of the spike protein. This raises the question of whether the immune response against the stabilized spike is identical to the immune response that is elicited by the native spike in the case of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Using a peptide array-based approach, we analysed the binding of antibodies from Comirnaty-elicited, convalescent, and control sera to the peptides covering the spike protein. A total of 37 linear epitopes were identified. A total of 26 of these epitopes were almost exclusively recognized by the convalescent sera. Mapping these epitopes to the spike structures revealed that most of these 26 epitopes are masked in the pre-fusion structure. In particular, in the conserved central helix, three epitopes that are only exposed in the post-fusion conformation were identified. This indicates a higher spike-specific antibody diversity in convalescent sera. These differences could be relevant for the breadth of spike-specific immune response.

5.
Allergy ; 2021 Nov 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1532724

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 (Comirnaty, BioNTech/Pfizer) and the vaccine candidate CVnCoV (Curevac) each encode a stabilized spike protein of SARS-CoV2 as antigen but differ with respect to the nature of the mRNA (modified versus unmodified nucleotides) and the mRNA amount (30 µg versus 12 µg RNA). This study characterizes antisera elicited by these two vaccines in comparison to convalescent sera. METHODS: Sera from BNT162b2 vaccinated healthcare workers, and sera from participants of a phase I trial vaccinated with 2, 4, 6, 8, or 12 µg CVnCoV and convalescent sera from hospitalized patients were analyzed by ELISA, neutralization tests, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), and peptide arrays. RESULTS: BNT162b2-elicited sera and convalescent sera have a higher titer of spike-RBD-specific antibodies and neutralizing antibodies as compared to the CVnCoV-elicited sera. For all analyzed sera a reduction in binding and neutralizing antibodies was found for the lineage B.1.351 variant of concern. SPR analyses revealed that the CVnCoV-elicited sera have a lower fraction of slow-dissociating antibodies. Accordingly, the CVnCoV sera almost fail to compete with the spike-ACE2 interaction. The significance of common VOC mutations K417N, E484K, or N501Y focused on linear epitopes was analyzed using a peptide array approach. The peptide arrays showed a strong difference between convalescent sera and vaccine-elicited sera. Specifically, the linear epitope at position N501 was affected by the mutation and elucidates the escape of viral variants to antibodies against this linear epitope. CONCLUSION: These data reveal differences in titer, neutralizing capacity, and affinity of the antibodies between BNT162b2- and CVnCoV-elicited sera, which could contribute to the apparent differences in vaccine efficacy.

6.
Allergy ; 2021 Oct 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1462724

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: People suffering from COVID-19 are typically considered non-infectious 14 days after diagnosis if symptoms have disappeared for at least 48 h. We describe three patients who independently acquired their infection. These three patients experienced mild COVID-19 and completely recovered symptomatically within 10 days, but remained PCR-positive in deep pharyngeal samples for at least 38 days. We attempted to isolate virus from pharyngeal swabs to investigate whether these patients still carried infectious virus. METHODS: Infectious virus was amplified in Vero E6 cells and characterized by electron microscopy and WGS. The immune response was investigated by ELISA and peptide arrays. RESULTS: In all three cases, infectious and replication-competent virus was isolated and amplified in Vero E6 cells. Virus replication was detected by RT-PCR and immunofluorescence microscopy. Electron microscopy confirmed the formation of intact SARS-CoV-2 particles. For a more detailed analysis, all three isolates were characterized by whole-genome sequencing (WGS). The sequence data revealed that the isolates belonged to the 20A or 20C clade, and two mutations in ORF8 were identified among other mutations that could be relevant for establishing a long-term infection. Characterization of the humoral immune response in comparison to patients that had fully recovered from mild COVID-19 revealed a lack of antibodies binding to sequential epitopes of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) for the long-term infected patients. CONCLUSION: Thus, a small portion of COVID-19 patients displays long-term infectivity and termination of quarantine periods after 14 days, without PCR-based testing, should be reconsidered critically.

7.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(7)2021 Jul 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1295957

ABSTRACT

Multiple preventive COVID-19 vaccines have been developed during the ongoing SARS coronavirus (CoV) 2 pandemic, utilizing a variety of technology platforms, which have different properties, advantages, and disadvantages. The acceleration in vaccine development required to combat the current pandemic is not at the expense of the necessary regulatory requirements, including robust and comprehensive data collection along with clinical product safety and efficacy evaluation. Due to the previous development of vaccine candidates against the related highly pathogenic coronaviruses SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, the antigen that elicits immune protection is known: the surface spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 or specific domains encoded in that protein, e.g., the receptor binding domain. From a scientific point of view and in accordance with legal frameworks and regulatory practices, for the approval of a clinic trial, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut requires preclinical testing of vaccine candidates, including general pharmacology and toxicology as well as immunogenicity. For COVID-19 vaccine candidates, based on existing platform technologies with a sufficiently broad data base, pharmacological-toxicological testing in the case of repeated administration, quantifying systemic distribution, and proof of vaccination protection in animal models can be carried out in parallel to phase 1 or 1/2 clinical trials. To reduce the theoretical risk of an increased respiratory illness through infection-enhancing antibodies or as a result of Th2 polarization and altered cytokine profiles of the immune response following vaccination, which are of specific concern for COVID-19 vaccines, appropriate investigative testing is imperative. In general, phase 1 (vaccine safety) and 2 (dose finding, vaccination schedule) clinical trials can be combined, and combined phase 2/3 trials are recommended to determine safety and efficacy. By applying these fundamental requirements not only for the approval and analysis of clinical trials but also for the regulatory evaluation during the assessment of marketing authorization applications, several efficacious and safe COVID-19 vaccines have been licensed in the EU by unprecedentedly fast and flexible procedures. Procedural and regulatory-scientific aspects of the COVID-19 licensing processes are described in this review.

8.
Allergy ; 77(1): 72-82, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1197086

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has affected the health of tens of millions of people worldwide. In particular, in elderly and frail individuals the infection can lead to severe disease and even fatal outcomes. Although the pandemic is primarily a human health crisis its consequences are much broader with a tremendous impact on global economics and social systems. Vaccines are considered the most powerful measure to fight the pandemic and protect people from COVID-19. Based on the concerted activities of scientists, manufacturers and regulators, the urgent need for effective countermeasures has provoked the development and licensure of novel COVID-19 vaccines in an unprecedentedly fast and flexible manner within <1 year. To ensure the safety and efficacy of these novel vaccines during the clinical development and the routine use in post-licensure vaccination campaigns existing regulatory requirements and procedures had to be wisely and carefully adapted to allow for an expedited evaluation without compromising the thoroughness of the regulatory and scientific assessment. In this review, we describe the regulatory procedures, concepts and requirements applied to guide and promote the highly accelerated development and licensure of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines in Europe.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Aged , Europe , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
9.
Antiviral Res ; 175: 104706, 2020 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2162

ABSTRACT

Rocaglates, a class of natural compounds isolated from plants of the genus Aglaia, are potent inhibitors of translation initiation. They are proposed to form stacking interactions with polypurine sequences in the 5'-untranslated region (UTR) of selected mRNAs, thereby clamping the RNA substrate onto eIF4A and causing inhibition of the translation initiation complex. Since virus replication relies on the host translation machinery, it is not surprising that the rocaglate Silvestrol has broad-spectrum antiviral activity. Unfortunately, synthesis of Silvestrol is sophisticated and time-consuming, thus hampering the prospects for further antiviral drug development. Here, we present the less complex structured synthetic rocaglate CR-31-B (-) as a novel compound with potent broad-spectrum antiviral activity in primary cells and in an ex vivo bronchial epithelial cell system. CR-31-B (-) inhibited the replication of corona-, Zika-, Lassa-, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses and, to a lesser extent, hepatitis E virus (HEV) at non-cytotoxic low nanomolar concentrations. Since HEV has a polypurine-free 5'-UTR that folds into a stable hairpin structure, we hypothesized that RNA clamping by Silvestrol and its derivatives may also occur in a polypurine-independent but structure-dependent manner. Interestingly, the HEV 5'-UTR conferred sensitivity towards Silvestrol but not to CR-31-B (-). However, if an exposed polypurine stretch was introduced into the HEV 5'-UTR, CR-31-B (-) became an active inhibitor comparable to Silvestrol. Moreover, thermodynamic destabilization of the HEV 5'-UTR led to reduced translational inhibition by Silvestrol, suggesting differences between rocaglates in their mode of action, most probably by engaging Silvestrol's additional dioxane moiety.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Benzofurans/pharmacology , Triterpenes/pharmacology , Virus Replication/drug effects , Viruses/drug effects , A549 Cells , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemical synthesis , Benzofurans/chemical synthesis , Bronchi/cytology , Cell Culture Techniques , Cells, Cultured , Epithelial Cells/virology , Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4A/antagonists & inhibitors , Hepatocytes/virology , Humans , Mice , Viruses/classification
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