A nasally delivered chimpanzee adenoviral-vectored severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine (ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S) is currently used in India (iNCOVACC). Here, we update this vaccine by creating ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-BA.5-S, which encodes a prefusion-stabilized BA.5 spike protein. Whereas serum neutralizing antibody responses induced by monovalent or bivalent adenoviral vaccines were poor against the antigenically distant XBB.1.5 strain and insufficient to protect in passive transfer experiments, mucosal antibody and cross-reactive memory T cell responses were robust, and protection was evident against WA1/2020 D614G and Omicron variants BQ.1.1 and XBB.1.5 in mice and hamsters. However, depletion of memory CD8+ T cells before XBB.1.5 challenge resulted in loss of protection against upper and lower respiratory tract infection. Thus, nasally delivered vaccines stimulate mucosal immunity against emerging SARS-CoV-2 strains, and cross-reactive memory CD8+ T cells mediate protection against lung infection by antigenically distant strains in the setting of low serum levels of cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-551
Number of pages15
JournalNature immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


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