Prior infection with SARS-CoV-2 boosts and broadens Ad26.COV2.S immunogenicity in a variant dependent manner

Highlights

• Infection before Ad26CoV2.S vaccination boosts binding, neutralization and ADCC
• Antibody boosting is not affected by time between infection and vaccination
• Neutralization breadth for VOCs is determined by the sequence of the infecting virus
• T cell responses are moderately boosted by prior infection and cross-react with VOCs

Summary

The Johnson and Johnson Ad26.COV2.S single dose vaccine represents an attractive option for COVID-19 vaccination in resource limited countries. We examined the effect of prior infection with different SARS-CoV-2 variants on Ad26.COV2.S immunogenicity. We compared participants who were SARS-CoV-2 naïve with those either infected with the ancestral D614G virus or infected in the second wave when Beta predominated. Prior infection significantly boosts spike binding antibodies, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and neutralizing antibodies against D614G, Beta and Delta, however neutralization cross-reactivity varied by wave. Robust CD4 and CD8 T cell responses are induced after vaccination, regardless of prior infection. T cell recognition of variants is largely preserved, apart from some reduction in CD8 recognition of Delta. Thus, Ad26.COV2.S vaccination following infection may result in enhanced protection against COVID-19. The impact of the infecting variant on neutralization breadth after vaccination has implications for the design of second-generation vaccines based on variants of concern.

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