Development of an inactivated vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  03 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6499, pp. 77-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc1932

Vaccine candidate tested in monkeys

Global spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to an urgent race to develop a vaccine. Gao et al. report preclinical results of an early vaccine candidate called PiCoVacc, which protected rhesus macaque monkeys against SARS-CoV-2 infection when analyzed in short-term studies. The researchers obtained multiple SARS-CoV-2 strains from 11 hospitalized patients across the world and then chemically inactivated the harmful properties of the virus. Animals were immunized with one of two vaccine doses and then inoculated with SARS-CoV-2. Those that received the lowest dose showed signs of controlling the infection, and those receiving the highest dose appeared more protected and did not have detectable viral loads in the pharynx or lungs at 7 days after infection. The next steps will be testing for safety and efficacy in humans.

Science, this issue p. 77


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in an unprecedented public health crisis. Because of the novelty of the virus, there are currently no SARS-CoV-2–specific treatments or vaccines available. Therefore, rapid development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are urgently needed. Here, we developed a pilot-scale production of PiCoVacc, a purified inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine candidate, which induced SARS-CoV-2–specific neutralizing antibodies in mice, rats, and nonhuman primates. These antibodies neutralized 10 representative SARS-CoV-2 strains, suggesting a possible broader neutralizing ability against other strains. Three immunizations using two different doses, 3 or 6 micrograms per dose, provided partial or complete protection in macaques against SARS-CoV-2 challenge, respectively, without observable antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. These data support the clinical development and testing of PiCoVacc for use in humans.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science