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Title: Rapid Evaluation of Vaccine Booster Effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 Variants
Authors: Cheng, Hoi Lok
Lim, Sing Mei
Jia, Huan
Chen, Ming Wei
Ng, Say Yong
Gao, Xiaohong
Somani, Jyoti 
Sengupta, Sharmila
Tay, Dousabel MY
Chua, Patrina WL
Abirami, R 
Ling, Sharon YH
McBee, Megan E
Young, Barnaby E
Sikes, Hadley D
Preiser, Peter R
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
neutralizing antibodies
point-of-care test
Issue Date: 7-Sep-2022
Citation: Cheng, Hoi Lok, Lim, Sing Mei, Jia, Huan, Chen, Ming Wei, Ng, Say Yong, Gao, Xiaohong, Somani, Jyoti, Sengupta, Sharmila, Tay, Dousabel MY, Chua, Patrina WL, Abirami, R, Ling, Sharon YH, McBee, Megan E, Young, Barnaby E, Sikes, Hadley D, Preiser, Peter R (2022-09-07). Rapid Evaluation of Vaccine Booster Effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 Variants. MICROBIOLOGY SPECTRUM 10 (5). ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, countries around the world are switching toward vaccinations and boosters to combat the pandemic. However, waning immunity against SARS-CoV-2 wild-type (WT) and variants have been widely reported. Booster vaccinations have shown to be able to increase immunological protection against new variants; however, the protection observed appears to decrease quickly over time suggesting a second booster shot may be appropriate. Moreover, heterogeneity and waning of the immune response at the individual level was observed suggesting a more personalized vaccination approach should be considered. To evaluate such a personalized strategy, it is important to have the ability to rapidly evaluate the level of neutralizing antibody (nAbs) response against variants at the individual level and ideally at a point of care setting. Here, we applied the recently developed cellulose pulled-down virus neutralization test (cpVNT) to rapidly assess individual nAb levels to WT and variants of concerns in response to booster vaccination. Our findings confirmed significant heterogeneity of nAb responses against a panel of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and indicated a strong increase in nAb response against variants of concern (VOCs) upon booster vaccination. For instance, the nAb response against current predominant omicron variant was observed with medians of 88.1% (n = 6, 95% CI = 73.2% to 96.2%) within 1-month postbooster and 70.7% (n = 22, 95% CI = 66.4% to 81.8%) 3 months postbooster. Our data show a point of care (POC) test focusing on nAb response levels against VOCs can guide decisions on the potential need for booster vaccinations at individual level. Importantly, it also suggests the current booster vaccines only give a transient protective response against some VOC and new more targeted formulations of a booster vaccine against specific VOC may need to be developed in the future. IMPORTANCE Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 induces protection through production of neutralization antibodies (nAb). The level of nAb is a major indicator of immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. We developed a rapid point-of-care test that can monitor the nAb level from a drop of finger stick blood. Here, we have implemented the test to monitor individual nAb level against wild-type and variants of SARS-CoV-2 at various time points of vaccination, including post-second-dose vaccination and postbooster vaccination. Huge diversity of nAb levels were observed among individuals as well as increment in nAb levels especially against Omicron variant after booster vaccination. This study evaluated the performance of this point-of-care test for personalized nAb response tracking. It verifies the potential of using a rapid nAb test to guide future vaccination regimens at both the individual and population level.
ISSN: 2165-0497
DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.02257-22
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