Safety and immunogenicity of CpG 1018 and aluminium hydroxide-adjuvanted SARS-CoV-2 S-2P protein vaccine MVC-COV1901: interim results of a large-scale, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 2 trial in Taiwan

Summary

Background

MVC-COV1901, a recombinant protein vaccine containing pre-fusion-stabilised spike protein S-2P adjuvanted with CpG 1018 and aluminium hydroxide, has been shown to be well tolerated with a good safety profile in healthy adults aged 20–49 years in a phase 1 trial, and provided a good cellular and humoral immune responses. We present the interim safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity results of a phase 2 clinical trial of the MVC-COV1901 vaccine in Taiwan.

Methods

This is a large-scale, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 2 trial done at ten medical centres and one regional hospital in Taiwan. Individuals aged 20 years or older who were generally healthy or had stable pre-existing medical conditions were eligible for enrolment. Exclusion criteria included (but were not limited to) travel overseas within 14 days of screening, intention to travel overseas within 6 months of the screening visit, and the absence of prespecified medical conditions, including immunosuppressive illness, a history of autoimmune disease, malignancy with risk to recur, a bleeding disorder, uncontrolled HIV infection, uncontrolled hepatitis B and C virus infections, SARS-CoV-1 or SARS-CoV-2 infections, an allergy to any vaccine, or a serious medical condition that could interfere with the study. Study participants were randomly assigned (6:1) to receive two doses of either MVC-COV1901 or placebo, administered via intramuscular injection on day 1 and day 29. MVC-COV1901 contained 15 μg of S-2P protein adjuvanted with 750 μg CpG 1018 and 375 μg aluminium hydroxide in a 0·5 mL aqueous solution, and the placebo contained the same volume of saline. Randomisation was done centrally by use of an interactive web response system, stratified by age (≥20 to ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04695652.

Findings

Of 4173 individuals screened between Dec 30, 2020, and April 2, 2021, 3854 were enrolled and randomly assigned: 3304 to the MVC-COV1901 group and 550 to the placebo group. A total of 3844 participants (3295 in the MVC-COV1901 group and 549 in the placebo group) were included in the safety analysis set, and 1053 participants (903 and 150) had received both doses and were included in the per-protocol immunogenicity analysis set. From the start of this phase 2 trial to the time of interim analysis, no vaccine-related serious adverse events were recorded. The most common solicited adverse events in all study participants were pain at the injection site (2346 [71·2%] of 3295 in the MVC-COV1901 group and 128 [23·3%] of 549 in the placebo group), and malaise or fatigue (1186 [36·0%] and 163 [29·7%]). Fever was rarely reported (23 [0·7%] and two [0·4%]). At 28 days after the second dose of MVC-COV1901, the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody GMT was 662·3 (95% CI 628·7–697·8; 408·5 IU/mL), the GMT ratio (geometric mean fold increase in titres at day 57 vs baseline) was 163·2 (155·0–171·9), and the seroconversion rate was 99·8% (95% CI 99·2–100·0).

Interpretation

MVC-COV1901 has a good safety profile and elicits promising immunogenicity responses. These data support MVC-COV1901 to enter phase 3 efficacy trials.

Funding

Medigen Vaccine Biologics and Taiwan Centres for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Introduction

COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Identified as a severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, it was named SARS-CoV-2.
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MVC-COV1901 is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine based on the stabilised pre-fusion SARS-CoV-2 spike protein S-2P, adjuvanted with CpG 1018 and aluminium hydroxide.
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Methods

 Study design and participants

This is an interim analysis of an ongoing large-scale, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 2 trial being done at ten medical centres and one regional hospital in Taiwan.

Eligible participants were male or female adults aged 20 years or older, who were healthy or had stable pre-existing medical conditions. Female participants of childbearing potential were required to take effective contraception from 14 days before screening to 30 days following the last injection of study intervention. Individuals who had travelled overseas within 14 days of screening, or those who planned to travel overseas within 6 months of the screening visit were excluded. Participants were also excluded if they had any of the following prespecified medical conditions: immunosuppressive illness, a history of autoimmune disease, malignancy with risk to recur, a bleeding disorder, uncontrolled HIV infection, uncontrolled hepatitis B and C virus infections, SARS-CoV-1 or SARS-CoV-2 virus infections, an allergy to any vaccine, or a serious medical condition that could interfere with the study. A full list of inclusion and exclusion criteria is available in the appendix (appendix pp 56–58). All participants provided written informed consent.
The trial protocol (appendix pp 25–113) and informed consent form were approved by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the ethics committees at the participating sites. The main institutional review board was Chang Gung Medical Foundation (Taoyuan, Taiwan), and other institutional review boards were the following institutes in Taiwan: National Taiwan University Hospital (Taipei), Taipei Veterans General Hospital (Taipei), Tri-Service General Hospital (Taipei), Taipei Medical University Hospital (Taipei), Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital (Taipei), Taoyuan General Hospital Ministry of Health and Welfare (Taoyuan), China Medical University Hospital (Taichung), Changhua Christian Hospital (Changhua County), National Cheng Kung University Hospital (Tainan), and Kaoshiung Medical University Hospital (Kaoshiung). The trial was done in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki and good clinical practice guidelines.

 Randomisation and masking

Participants were randomly assigned (6:1) to receive either MVC-COV1901 or placebo. Randomisation was done centrally by use of an interactive web response system (Medidata randomisation and trial supply management; New York, NY, USA). The randomisation list by block (size 7 and 14) randomisation, stratified by age (≥20 to <65 years and ≥65 years), was generated by the randomisation biostatistician with unique randomisation identification numbers across all blocks and strata.

Participants and investigators were masked to group assignment. Since MVC-COV1901 and placebo are visually distinct, each trial site was assigned an unmasked study nurse, who was involved in the preparation, dispensing, administration, and accountability of the study intervention, but who had no involvement in the rest of the trial. To ensure that masking was achieved, study-specific training was done at all participating trial sites. Study staff who administered the intervention covered the syringes (physically by hand or with aluminium foil) to ensure participants were masked to the intervention.

Before this interim analysis, our phase 2 trial adhered to the protocol and statistical analysis plan. However, prompted by a vaccine shortage in Taiwan, this interim analysis was necessary for the regional submission of MVC-COV1901 for emergency use authorisation, which has since been granted (on July 30, 2021). The emergency use authorisation submission inevitably entailed disclosing the summary results to the authors, who were also the principal investigators at each participating site. Nevertheless, to enforce the protocol for a double-blind trial, individual treatment allocation remains masked to all team members involved in conducting this ongoing trial.

 Procedures

Participants received two doses of either MVC-COV1901 or placebo at their second visit (day 1) and fourth visit (day 29) via intramuscular injection into the deltoid muscle. The 0·5-mL MVC-COV1901 prefilled syringe contained 15 μg of Chinese hamster ovary cell-derived S-2P protein, adjuvanted with 750 μg CpG 1018 and 375 μg aluminium hydroxide without any preservatives, as previously reported. The vaccine was produced at the Medigen Vaccine Biologics (Taipei, Taiwan) Zhubei facility in compliance with current good manufacturing practices. The placebo was 0·5 mL of saline. The duration of the study was 209 days (a 29-day treatment period and 180 days of follow-up). Participant data were collected via six on-site visits (on days −28 to 0 [screening visit], 1 [first vaccination], 29 [second vaccination], 43, 57, and 209) and three telephone calls (on days 8, 36, and 85).
Vital signs were assessed before and after each injection. Participants were observed for at least 30 min after each injection to identify any immediate adverse events. After each injection, participants were asked to record any solicited local and systemic adverse events in their diary cards for up to 7 days. Unsolicited adverse events were recorded for 28 days after each injection. All other adverse events, serious adverse events, adverse events of special interest, and vaccine-associated enhanced diseases were recorded throughout the study period. The severity of solicited and unsolicited adverse events were graded according to modified grading scales of the US FDA Toxicity Grading Scale for Healthy Adult and Adolescent Volunteers Enrolled in Preventive Vaccine Clinical Trials (September 2007). Solicited adverse events are defined as those that occurred within 7 days after each dose of study intervention (appendix pp 73–75). Unsolicited adverse events are defined as any untoward medical events, other than solicited adverse events, that occurred within 28 days after each dose of study intervention. The investigator used their clinical judgement to assess the association between the study intervention and the occurrence of each solicited or unsolicited adverse event (appendix pp 77–78).

Immunogenicity was assessed by measuring neutralising antibody responses on days 1 and 57, and anti-spike IgG antibody responses on days 1, 29, 43, 57, and 209. To measure neutralising antibody titres, wild-type SARS-CoV-2, Taiwan CDC strain number 4 (hCoV-19/Taiwan/4/2020; Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data accession ID EPI_ISL_411927), was titrated to calculate the 50% tissue culture infective dose (TCID50). Vero E6 cells were seeded in 96-well plates (at 1·2 × 104 cells per well) and incubated. The serum samples underwent a total of eight two-fold dilutions, starting from a 1:8 dilution to a final dilution of 1:1024. Diluted serum samples were then mixed with an equal volume of 100 TCID50 per 50 μL of virus. After incubating the serum-virus mixture at 37°C for 1 h, it was added to the wells containing Vero E6 cells. The cells were then incubated at 37°C in a 5% CO2 incubator for 4–5 days. The neutralising titre (NT50) was defined as the reciprocal of the highest dilution capable of inhibiting 50% of the cytopathic effect. The NT50 results were derived from quadruplicated tests and calculated with the Reed-Muench method.

To facilitate conversion of geometric mean titres (GMTs) to International Units (IUs/mL) or binding antibody units (BAUs/mL), we purchased WHO international standard reference panels (20/136 and 20/268 [including reference samples 20/150, 20/148, 20/144, and 20/140]) from the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC; Potters Bar, UK) for comparison (appendix p 3). To convert GMTs to IU/mL, a neutralising assay was first developed to calculate the GMTs of the NIBSC serum samples. The GMTs were calculated from the titres of three repeated tests. Using the correlation between the GMTs and the assigned IU/mL of each standardised NIBSC serum sample, we established an equation for converting GMT to IU/mL (y=1·0334x + 1·0103, where y is the log2 value of IU/mL and x is the log2 value of the GMT). Finally, we applied this equation to convert the GMTs of participant serum samples to IU/mL.
For the conversion of GMTs to BAUs/mL, total serum anti-spike IgG titres were measured by use of an ELISA with customised 96-well plates coated with S-2P antigen, as previously reported.
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 Outcomes

The primary safety outcomes were to evaluate the safety and tolerability of MVC-COV1901 versus placebo between day 1 and day 57 (28 days after the second dose), and included the occurrence of immediate adverse events, solicited local and systemic adverse events up to 7 days after each injection, unsolicited adverse events up to 28 days after each injection, and any other adverse events, serious adverse events, adverse events of special interest, and vaccine-associated enhanced disease that occurred throughout the study period. The primary immunogenicity outcome was to evaluate neutralising antibody titres on day 1 and day 57 in terms of GMTs, the GMT ratio, and the seroconversion rate.

The secondary safety outcome was to evaluate the safety of MVC-COV1901 over the study period. The secondary immunogenicity outcomes were to evaluate anti-spike IgG antibody titres on days 1 (the day of the first dose), 29 (the day of the second dose), 43 (14 days after the second dose), 57, and 209, the lot-to-lot consistency of MVC-COV1901 in patients aged 20 years to younger than 65 years, and the immunogenicity of MVC-COV1901 compared with placebo, in terms of antigen-specific IgG titres and neutralising antibody titres.

 Statistical analysis

The sample size of our trial design meets the minimum safety requirement of 3000 study participants in the vaccine group, as recommended by the US FDA and WHO.
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The primary safety outcomes in this interim analysis were assessed in the safety set, which included all randomly assigned participants who had received at least one dose of study intervention. The per-protocol immunogenicity subset consisted of participants who had received two doses of the study intervention (administered 28 days apart), had valid immunogenicity data on day 57, and had no major protocol deviations up to day 57. The per-protocol immunogenicity subset was the primary analysis population for the primary and secondary immunogenicity outcomes in this interim analysis. The immunogenicity subset was to include the first 1090 randomly assigned participants, of whom 820 were younger adults and 270 were older adults. We calculated the sample size for the per-protocol immunogenicity subset by first determining the number of younger adults to be enrolled. Based on the assumption of achieving lot-to-lot consistency with an overall power of 98% and an assumed dropout rate of 6·4%, the lot-to-lot equivalence analysis would require 820 younger adults. To ensure the age proportion of the immunogenicity subset reflected that of the trial population (approximately 80% younger adults and 20% older adults), 270 older adults were included. Further details of the sample size calculations are provided in the appendix (pp 87–89).
Safety data of solicited adverse events are presented as stacked bar charts showing the proportions of partipants in each group according to the type and severity of adverse events. Detailed information on safety are presented in the appendix (pp 5–12). Immunogenicity data are presented as GMTs, GMT ratios, and seroconversion rates, with their associated two-sided 95% CIs. The GMT ratio is defined as the fold increase in post-study GMTs over baseline values. The seroconversion rate for both the neutralisation and anti-spike IgG assay is defined as the proportion of participants with a four-fold or higher increase in titres from baseline or from half the lower limit of detection (defined as eight for the neutralisation assay and 100 for the anti-spike IgG assay) if the baseline sample value was undetectable.

Participants from different study sites were pooled for statistical analysis. Significance tests (two-tailed; α=0·05) were done as follows: a two-sample t test or Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used for pairwise comparison of GMT and GMT ratios; Pearson’s χ2 test or Fisher’s exact test (in the case of small cell counts or an expected cell count of less than five) was used for calculating the significance of seroconversion rate results; and p values were rounded to four decimal places, if applicable.

All statistical analyses were done using SAS version 9.4 or later. An independent data monitoring committee (IDMC) was established to monitor data safety and trial conduct.

An interim analysis was triggered because the following conditions were met: all participants had completed the second dose of study intervention by 1 month (28 days), and half of participants had completed the second dose of study intervention by 2 months.

 Role of the funding source

Medigen Vaccine Biologics (the study sponsor) had a role in study design, data analysis, and data interpretation, but had no role in data collection, or writing of the report. Taiwan CDC of the Ministry of Health and Welfare had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report.

Results

Between Dec 30, 2020 and April 2, 2021, 4173 individuals were screened and 3854 were randomly assigned to the MVC-COV1901 group (n=3304) or the placebo group (n=550; figure 1). A total of 3844 participants received at least one dose of the study intervention (3295 in the MVC-COV1901 group and 549 in the placebo group) and were included in the safety set. The investigators did not exclude any eligible participants during enrolment. Up to the data cutoff date (June 2, 2021), a total of 1053 participants (903 in the MVC-COV1901 group and 150 in the placebo group) fulfilled the criteria for inclusion in the per-protocol immunogenicity subset. The mean age of participants in the safety set was 45·00 years (SD 16·27; range 20–89 years), and 2172 (56·5%) of participants were men and 1672 (43·5%) were women (table). Only one (2, and negative serology tests for HBsAg, anti-hepatitis C virus, and HIV at baseline. A total of 634 (16·5%) participants had comorbidities, the most common of which were higher glycated haemoglobin A1c concentrations than the normal range (517 [13·4%]), followed by cardiovascular disease (99 [2·6%]) and malignancy (42 [1·1%]).

TableDemographics of the participants in the safety set

Data are mean (SD), n (%), or n/N (%). The safety set included all participants who had received at least one dose of study intervention.

The occurrence of solicited adverse events are summarised in figure 2 and in the appendix (pp 5–13). Overall, 2510 (65·3%) of 3844 participants reported solicited local adverse events after receiving any dose of the study intervention. The MVC-COV1901 group (2381 [72·3%] of 3295) outnumbered the placebo group (129 [23·5%] of 549) in the number of solicited local adverse events reported, which were mostly mild (grade 1) to moderate (grade 2) in severity. After any dose of MVC-COV1901, the most common solicited local adverse event was pain at the injection site (2346 [71·2%] in the MVC-COV1901 group compared with 128 [23·3%] in the placebo group) and the most common solicited systemic adverse event was malaise or fatigue (1186 [36·0%] compared with 163 [29·7%]). Fever was rarely reported in either the MVC-COV1901 group (23 [0·7%] patients) or placebo group (two [0·4%]). Most of the solicited adverse events were self-limiting and resolved within 7 days, with a mean duration of less than 3 days (SD 0·4–1·5). The occurrences of both local and systemic solicited adverse events after any dose of the study intervention in the 65 years and older age group (367 [43·8%] of 838 had a solicited local adverse event and 324 [38·7%] had a solicited systemic adverse event) were slightly lower than that in the overall safety set (appendix p 11).
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Figure 2Solicited local (A) and systemic (B) adverse events occurring within 7 days of the first and second doses of MVC-COV1901 or placebo

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Adverse events were graded as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2), or severe (grade 3).





A total of 1081 (28·2%) of 3844 participants reported unsolicited adverse events (appendix p 14). The proportion of all participants who reported unsolicited adverse events and other adverse events in the overall safety set and by age group was similar between the MVC-COV1901 and placebo groups.

No serious adverse events were considered related to the study intervention. One adverse event of special interest (temporary facial paralysis) was reported in one (<0·1%) of 3295 participants in the MVC-COV1901 group, and was considered as possibly related to the vaccine. No deaths or vaccine-associated enhanced diseases were reported.

In the per-protocol immunogenicity subset of the MVC-COV1901 group, the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody GMT was 662·3 (95% CI 628·7–697·8) and the GMT ratio was 163·2 (95% CI 155·0–171·9) on day 57. Both values were significantly higher (pfigure 3; appendix pp 15–16). In the MVC-COV1901 group, the GMT was higher in the younger adult group (732·9 [692·4–775·7]) than in the older adult group (484·5 [433·2–542·0]). The GMTs of the NIBSC standard 20/136 was 1619·9 (1447·3–1792·5), of 20/148 was 257·5 (207·5–307·5), of 20/144 was 181·2 (134·7–227·6), and of 20/140 was 87·1 (65·6–108·6). After conversion to IU/mL, the GMTs of neutralising antibodies on day 57 were 408·5 IU/mL in all participants in the per-protocol immunogenicity subset, 453·5 IU/mL in the younger adult group, and 295·7 IU/mL in the older adult group (figure 3).
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Figure 3Neutralising antibody titres against live wild-type SARS-CoV-2 on day 1 and day 57

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The height of the bars represent the GMTs, and the error bars represent the corresponding 95% CIs. GMT values greater than the lower limit of detection (ie, >8), indicated by the horizontal dotted line, are included above the bars. The GMT of the triplicate measurement of each NIBSC standard is indicated above, below, or immediately to the right of the filled black circles, and the name of the standard is provided on the right of each black circle. GMT=geometric mean titre. IU=international units. NIBSC=National Institute for Biological Standards and Control.






The seroconversion rate, based on the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 GMT, in the MVC-COV1901 group on day 57 was 99·8% (95% CI 99·2–100·0), with only two participants without seroconversion (appendix p 17). No seroconversion was observed in the placebo group. In both younger and older adults who received the MVC-COV1901 vaccine, almost all participants had seroconversion (99·9% [99·2–100·0] in younger adults and 99·5% [97·5–100·0] in older adults).
Anti-spike IgG GMTs in the per-protocol immunogenicity subset of the MVC-COV1901 group increased from 52·7 (95% CI 51·7–53·8) on day 1 to 430·5 (95% CI 398·7–464·8) on day 29, but remained at baseline levels in the placebo group (figure 4; appendix pp 18–21). The anti-spike IgG titre continued to increase to 8262·2 (7801·9–8,749·5]) on day 43 and remained at 5745·4 (5464·5–6040·6]) on day 57 in this group. The younger adult group had higher anti-spike IgG GMTs than the older adult group at all time points (appendix pp 18–21). After conversion to BAU/mL, anti-spike IgG GMTs on day 57 were 524·0 BAU/mL (498·4–550·9] in the whole per-protocol immunogenicity subset, 594·7 BAU/mL (564·4–626·7) in the younger adult group, and 354·5 BAU/mL (317·0–396·4) in the older adult group. Neutralising and binding antibody GMTs converted to IU/mL and BAU/mL, respectively, are shown in the appendix (p 22).
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Figure 4SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike IgG GMTs measured by ELISA using S-2P as coated antigen on day 1, 29, 43, and 57

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The height of the bars represent the GMTs, and the error bars represent the corresponding 95% CIs. GMT values greater than the lower limit of detection (ie, >100), indicated by the horizontal dotted line, are included above the bars. BAU=binding antibody unit. GMT=geometric mean titre.






The seroconversion rate of anti-spike IgG titres was 74·4% (95% CI 71·4–77·2) in the whole per-protocol immunogenicity subset of the MVC-COV1901 group on day 29, increasing to 99·7% (99·0–99·9) on day 43, and to 99·6% (98·9–99·9) on day 57 (appendix pp 23–24). On day 29, the seroconversion rate was 53·9% (47·0–60·6) in the older adult group and 80·9% (77·8–83·8) in the younger adult group. However, the seroconversion rate in both age groups was similar on day 43 (99·5% [97·5–100·0] vs 99·7% [98·9–100·0]).

Discussion

The design of this phase 2 trial followed the principle of the US FDA guidance for industry on emergency use authorisation of vaccines to prevent COVID-19, published in October, 2020.
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The design of the SARS-CoV-2 antigen used in the MVC-COV1901 vaccine involves a range of molecular modifications to the S-2P pre-fusion spike protein, a furitin cleavage site mutation, and T4 fibritin for trimerisation.
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Khoury and colleagues
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Our first parameter is based on the one used in the study by Khoury and colleagues,
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Another method to predict clinical efficacy is the BAU conversion model. Researchers at the University of Oxford (Oxford, UK)
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We acknowledge the limitations of our study. The low viral transmission rate in Taiwan at the time of the study, together with the small size of the placebo group, hindered observation of both vaccine efficacy as the exploratory endpoint and the risk of vaccine-associated enhanced disease. The short duration of follow-up before the interim analysis prevented us from assessing the durability of immune responses after day 57; the long-term follow-up analysis will be available on completion of this phase 2 trial in October, 2021. In addition, the racial diversity of study participants is restricted to ethnicities in Taiwan. We currently have no available data to draw conclusions about the immune response and safety of MVC-COV1901 in children aged younger than 20 years or in pregnant or lactating women. High-risk participants and those with one or more uncontrolled comorbidities were also excluded at baseline; therefore, the efficacy of MVC-COV1901 in these individuals cannot be established. These limitations will be addressed in the ongoing study in adolescents (NCT04951388) or our phase 3 trials, which will be done in regions outside Taiwan where the prevalence of COVID-19 infection is high.

In conclusion, this interim analysis shows that the MVC-COV1901 vaccine has a good safety profile and elicits promising neutralising antibody titres. MVC-COV1901 is safe, well tolerated, and rarely causes febrile reactions in both young and older adults. MVC-COV1901 induces high neutralising antibody and anti-spike IgG titres, and it has a seroconversion rate of almost 100% by day 57. Using WHO IU and BAU conversion models, the predicted clinical efficacy for MVC-COV1901 is similar according to both methods. The phase 2 trial results support the advancement of MVC-COV1901 in subsequent phase 3 trials. MVC-COV1901 has recently been granted emergency use authorisation in Taiwan.

S-MH and I-CT conceptualised and designed the study. S-MH, M-CL, Y-HC, W-SL, S-JH, S-HC, K-PH, W-CK, N-CW, and Yu-LL acquired and interpreted the data. S-MH, M-CL, Y-HC, Yu-LL, S-JH, S-HC, CEL, I-CT, and Yi-LL, drafted and prepared the manuscript. Yi-LL, C-GH, S-RS, C-CL, J-JL, and C-SC set up and did the laboratory assays, and analysed the data. CC provided administrative, technical, and material support. All authors reviewed and approved the final version of the manuscript. S-MH, T-YL, CEL, and I-CT had full access to and verified all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. S-MH, T-YL, CEL, and I-CT had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.

Data sharing

Data sharing is not applicable to this Article, as it is an interim analysis of the study; the trial is still ongoing.

Declaration of interests

CC, CEL, and I-CT are employees of Medigen Vaccine Biologics (Taipei, Taiwan) and they report receiving grants from Taiwan Centres for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare, during the conduct of the study. CC also has a patent pending relating to the MVC-COV1901 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 (US17/351,363). All other authors declare no competing interests.

Acknowledgments

The study was funded by Medigen Vaccine Biologics (study sponsor) and the Taiwan Centres for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare. The sponsor co-designed the trial and coordinated interactions with contract Clinical Research Organization (CRO) staff and regulatory authorities. The CRO took charge of trial operation to meet the required standards of the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use and good clinical practice guidelines. The IDMC oversaw the safety data and gave recommendations to the sponsor. The interim analysis was done by the CRO. We thank Stanley Chang, Meei-Yun Lin, and Luke Tzu-Chi Liu at Medigen Vaccine Biologics for drafting, editing, and revising the manuscript; all the trial participants for their dedication to this trial; the investigational staff at National Taiwan University Hospital, Taiwan Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei Municipal Wan Fang Hospital, Linkou Chang Gung Medical Hospital, Taoyuan General Hospital Ministry of Health and Welfare, China Medical University Hospital, Changhua Christian Hospital, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, and Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital, the Clinipace Clinical Research team (Taipei, Taiwan), and Hao-Yuan Cheng, Criss Cheng, Meng-Ju Tsai at Medigen Vaccine Biologics for their involvement in conducting the trial; Barney S Graham at the Vaccine Research Centre, US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for the development of S-2P pre-fusion protein; Robert Janssen at Dynavax Technologies for providing important intellectual content during manuscript preparation; Dynavax Technologies for providing the CpG 1018 adjuvant; Wei-Cheng Lian, Erh-Fang Hsieh, and Yi-Jiun Lin at Medigen Vaccine Biologics for their collaboration with vaccine production, and their important contributions to the investigational new drug application and laboratory assay development; the members of the independent data monitoring committee; team members at Protech Pharmaservices (Taipei, Taiwan) for conducting the spike-specific IgG ELISA assay; Mei-Jen Hsiao, Peng-Nien Huang, Po-Wei Huang, Chia-Pei Chen, Yueh-Te Lin, Fang-Yu Lin, and Ya-Jhu Lin at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Taoyuan, Taiwan), and team members at Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan) for conducting the neutralisation assay.

Supplementary Material

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