Immunogenicity and efficacy of vaccine boosters against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariant BA.5 in male Syrian hamsters

Rafael R.G. Machado, Jordyn L. Walker, Dionna Scharton, Grace H. Rafael, Brooke M. Mitchell, Rachel A. Reyna, William M. de Souza, Jianying Liu, David H. Walker, Jessica Plante, Kenneth S. Plante, Scott C. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariant BA.5 rapidly spread worldwide and replaced BA.1/BA.2 in many countries, becoming globally dominant. BA.5 has unique amino acid substitutions in the spike protein that both mediate immune escape from neutralizing antibodies produced by immunizations and increase ACE2 receptor binding affinity. In a comprehensive, long-term (up to 9 months post primary vaccination), experimental vaccination study using male Syrian hamsters, we evaluate neutralizing antibody responses and efficacy against BA.5 challenge after primary vaccination with Ad26.COV2.S (Janssen) or BNT162b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech) followed by a homologous or heterologous booster with mRNA-1273 (Moderna) or NVX-CoV2373 (Novavax). Notably, one high or low dose of Ad26.COV2.S provides more durable immunity than two primary doses of BNT162b2, and the NVX-CoV2373 booster provides the strongest augmentation of immunity, reduction in BA.5 viral replication, and disease. Our data demonstrate the immunogenicity and efficacy of different prime/boost vaccine regimens against BA.5 infection in an immune-competent model and provide new insights regarding COVID-19 vaccine strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4260
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 17 2023


  • Ad26COVS1
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19/prevention & control
  • Cricetinae
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccines


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