Newly Developed Vaccines Protect Against COVID-19 in Macaques Study

Dan H Barouch

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Senior author Dan H. Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Credit: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Companion research study recommends COVID-19 infection secures versus re-exposure.

With almost 5 million validated cases internationally and more than 300,000 deaths from COVID-19, much remains unidentified about SARS-CoV-2, the infection that triggers the illness. Two important concerns are whether vaccines will avoid infection with COVID-19, and whether people who have actually recuperated from COVID-19 are safeguarded versus re-exposure. A set of brand-new research studies led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) sheds brand-new light on these concerns. Both research studies were released today in the journal Science.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has made the development of a vaccine a top biomedical priority, but very little is currently known about protective immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” stated senior author Dan H. Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC. “In these two studies, we demonstrate in rhesus macaques that prototype vaccines protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection and that SARS-CoV-2 infection protected against re-exposure.”

In the very first research study, the group showed that 6 prospect DNA vaccines caused reducing the effects of antibody reactions and safeguarded versus SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques. Barouch and associates — who started pursuing a COVID-19 vaccine in mid-January when Chinese researchers launch the viral genome — established a series of prospect DNA vaccines revealing variations of the Spike protein, a crucial antibody target of the unique coronavirus. The vaccines are developed to train the body’s body immune system to acknowledge and react rapidly to the infection upon direct exposure.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccines, the scientists inoculated 25 adult rhesus macaques with the investigational vaccines, and 10 animals got a sham control. Vaccinated animals established reducing the effects of antibodies versus the infection. Three weeks after an increase vaccination, all 35 animals were exposed to the infection. Follow-up screening exposed significantly lower viral loads in immunized animals compared to the control group. Eight of the 25 immunized animals showed no noticeable infection at any point following direct exposure to the infection, and the other animals revealed low levels of infection. Moreover, greater antibody levels were connected to lower viral loads, recommending that reducing the effects of antibodies might function as a correlate of defense and might show beneficial as a criteria in scientific screening SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

In the 2nd research study, the group showed that macaques that recuperated from COVID-19 established natural protective resistance versus re-infection. “Individuals who recover from many viral infections typically develop antibodies that provide protection against re-exposure, but not all viruses generate this natural protective immunity,” stated Barouch, who is likewise Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

After exposing 9 adult macaques to the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the scientists kept an eye on viral levels as the animals recuperated. All 9 animals recuperated and established antibodies versus the infection. More than a month after preliminary infection, the group re-exposed the rhesus macaques to the infection. Upon 2nd direct exposure, the animals showed near-complete defense versus the infection. These information recommend natural protective resistance versus COVID-19 in this design.

“Our findings increase optimism that the development of COVID-19 vaccines will be possible,” stated Barouch. “Further research will be needed to address the important questions about the length of protection, as well as the optimal vaccine platforms for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for humans.”


Future research studies will check the Advertisement26 based vaccines that Barouch is establishing in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson.

Barouch’s co-authors consisted of Jingyou Yu, Lisa H. Tostanosi, Lauren Peter, Noe B. Mercado, Katherine McMahan, Shant H. Mahrokhian, Joseph P. Nkolola, Jinyan Liu, Zhenfeng Li, Abishek Chandrashekar, Esther A. Bondzie, Gabriel Dagotto, Makda S. Gebre, Xuan He, Catherine Jacob-Dolan, Marinela Kirilova, Nicole Kordana, Zijin Lin, Lori F. Maxfield, Felix Nampanya, Ramy Nityanandam, John D. Ventura, Amanda J. Martinot, Lauren Peter, Peter Abbink, Michelle A. Lifton, and Huahua Wan of BIDMC; David R. Martinez and Ralph S. Baric of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Carolin Loos, Caroline Atyeo, Stephanie Fischinger, John S. Burke, Aaron G. Schmidt, Galit Alter and Matthew D. Slein of Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard; Yuezhou Chen, Adam Zuiani, Felipe J.N. Lelis, Meghan Travers, Duane R. Wesemann and Shaghayegh Habibi of Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Laurent Pessaint, Alex Van Ry, Jack Greenhouse, Tammy Taylor, Kelvin Blade, Renita Brown, Anthony Cook, Brad Finneyfrock, Alan Dodson, Elyse Teow, Hanne Anderson, Mark G. Lewis and Jason Velasco of Bioqual; Roland Zahn and Frank Wegmann of Janssen Vaccines and Prevention BV; Yongfei Cai and Bing Chen of Children’s Hospital Boston; Zoltan Maliga and Peter K. Sorger of Harvard Medical School; Michael Nekorchuk, Kathleen Busman-Sahay, Margaret Terry and Jacob D. Estes of Oregon Health &Science University; LindaM. Wrijil and Sarah Ducat of Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine; and Andrew D. Miller of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The authors state no contending monetary interests.

These research studies were supported by the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; Mark and Lisa Schwartz Foundation; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Janssen Vaccines & Prevention BV; the National Institutes of Health (grants OD024917, AI129797, AI124377, AI128751, AI126603 to D.H.B.; AI135098 to A.J.M.; AI007387 to L.H.T.; AI007151 to D.R.M.; AI146779 to A.G.S.; 272201700036I-0- 759301900131-1, AI100625, AI110700, AI132178, AI149644, AI108197 to R.S.B.; CA225088 to P.K.S.;OD011092, OD025002 to J.D.E.; and AI121394, AI139538 to D.R.W. ; Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Award; Fast Grant, Emergent Ventures, Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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