Publication date: Jul 10, 2023
Although mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, vaccine effectiveness (VE) against infection and disease from variants of concern (VOC) wanes over time. Neutralizing antibodies (NAb) are surrogates of protection and are enhanced by a booster dose, but their kinetics and durability remain understudied. Current recommendation of a booster dose does not consider the existing NAb in each individual. Here, we investigated 50% neutralization (NT) titers against VOC among COVID-19-naive participants receiving the Moderna (n = 26) or Pfizer (n = 25) vaccine for up to 7 months following the second dose, and determined their half-lives. We found that the time it took for NT titers to decline to 24, equivalent to 50% inhibitory dilution of 10 international units/mL, was longer in the Moderna (325/324/235/274 days for the D614G/alpha/beta/delta variants) group than in the Pfizer (253/252/174/226 days) group, which may account for the slower decline in VE of the Moderna vaccine observed in real-world settings and supports our hypothesis that measuring the NT titers against VOC, together with information on NAb half-lives, can be used to dictate the time of booster vaccination. Our study provides a framework to determine the optimal time of a booster dose against VOC at the individual level. In response to future VOC with high morbidity and mortality, a quick evaluation of NAb half-lives using longitudinal serum samples from clinical trials or research programs of different primary-series vaccinations and/or one or two boosters could provide references for determining the time of booster in different individuals. IMPORTANCE Despite improved understanding of the biology of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the evolutionary trajectory of the virus is uncertain, and the concern of future antigenically distinct variants remains. Current recommendations for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose are primarily based on neutralization capacity, effectiveness against circulating variants of concern (VOC), and other host factors. We hypothesized that measuring neutralizing antibody titers against SARS-CoV-2 VOC together with half-life information can be used to dictate the time of booster vaccination. Through detailed analysis of neutralizing antibodies against VOC among COVID-19-naive vaccinees receiving either of two mRNA vaccines, we found that the time it took for 50% neutralization titers to decline to a reference level of protection was longer in the Moderna than in the Pfizer group, which supports our hypothesis. In response to future VOC with potentially high morbidity and mortality, our proof-of-concept study provides a framework to determine the optimal time of a booster dose at the individual level.
|Moderna||variants of concern|
|disease||VO||Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2|