Although severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines have shown efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, it is unknown if coronavirus vaccines can also protect against other coronaviruses that may infect humans in the future. Here, we show that coronavirus vaccines elicited cross-protective immune responses against heterologous coronaviruses. In particular, we show that a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 1 (SARS-CoV-1) vaccine developed in 2004 and known to protect against SARS-CoV-1 conferred robust heterologous protection against SARS-CoV-2 in mice. Similarly, prior coronavirus infections conferred heterologous protection against distinct coronaviruses. Cross-reactive immunity was also reported in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and in individuals who received SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and transfer of plasma from these individuals into mice improved protection against coronavirus challenges. These findings provide the first demonstration to our knowledge that coronavirus vaccines (and prior coronavirus infections) can confer broad protection against heterologous coronaviruses and establish a rationale for universal coronavirus vaccines.
Tanushree Dangi, Nicole Palacio, Sarah Sanchez, Mincheol Park, Jacob Class, Lavanya Visvabharathy, Thomas Ciucci, Igor J. Koralnik, Justin M. Richner, Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster