BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in children less than 5 years of age have different antigen doses and administration schedules that could affect vaccine immunogenicity and effectiveness. We sought to compare the strength and breadth of serum binding and neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 elicited by monovalent mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines in young children.

METHODS

We conducted a prospective cohort study of children 6 months to 4 years of age who completed primary series vaccination with monovalent mRNA-1273 or BNT162b2 vaccines. Serum was collected one month after primary vaccine series completion for measurement of SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral immune responses, including antibody binding responses to Spike proteins from an ancestral strain (D614G) and major variants of SARS-CoV-2 and antibody neutralizing activity against D614G and Omicron subvariants (BA.1, BA.4/5).

RESULTS

Of 75 participants, 40 (53%) received mRNA-1273 and 35 (47%) received BNT162b2. Children receiving either primary vaccine series developed robust and broad SARS-CoV-2-specific binding and neutralizing antibodies, including to Omicron subvariants. Children with a prior history of SARS-CoV-2 infection developed significantly higher antibody binding responses and neutralization titers to Omicron subvariants, consistent with the occurrence of identified infections during the circulation of Omicron subvariants in the region.

CONCLUSIONS

Monovalent mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2 elicited similar antibody responses one month after vaccination in young children. Further, prior infection significantly enhanced the strength of antibody responses to Omicron subvariants. Future studies should evaluate incorporation of these vaccines into the standard childhood immunization schedule.

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Competing Interests

CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURES: SRP serves as a consultant for Merck, Pfizer, Moderna, Hookipa, Dynavax and GSK in the area of CMV vaccines and has led sponsored programs with Merck and Moderna. MSK reports consulting or advisory board fees from Merck & Co., Inc. and Invivyd. All other co-authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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