- Authors: Leventhal SS. et al.
- Year: 2021
- Journal: Microorganisms 9 1040
- Applications: in vivo / DNA / in vivo-jetPEI
The 2019 novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, first reported in December 2019, has infected over 102 million people around the world as of February 2021 and thus calls for rapid development of safe and effective interventions, namely vaccines. In our study, we evaluated a DNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in the Syrian hamster model. Hamsters were vaccinated with a DNA-plasmid encoding the SARS-CoV-2 full length spike open reading frame (ORF) to induce host cells to produce spike protein and protective immune responses before exposure to infectious virus. We tested this vaccine candidate by both intranasal (IN) and intramuscular (IM) routes of administration and complexing with and without an in vivo delivery reagent. Hamsters receiving prime-boost-boost IM-only vaccinations recovered body weight quicker, had decreased lung viral loads, and increased SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody titers compared to control vaccinated animals but, surprisingly, lung pathology was as severe as sham vaccinated controls. The IM/IN combination group showed no efficacy in reducing lung virus titers or pathology. With increasing public health need for rapid and effective interventions, our data demonstrate that in some vaccine contexts, significant antibody responses and decreased viral loads may not be sufficient to prevent lung pathology.