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Poliovirus Vaccine Induced Antibodies Cross Reacts with SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 and poliovirus have single stranded RNA and use RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) for genomic replication. It was proven using ELISA that poliovirus RdRp antigens were recognized by SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. This indicates that the poliovirus vaccine (IPV) has the ability to induce immune responses against SARS-COV-2. Serum samples from 204 individuals were analysed, of which 119 has not been recently immunized with the poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and termed as “pre-immunized individuals”. 85 individuals had recently received IPV, referred to as “post-immunized individuals”.

Sera from individuals vaccinated for poliovirus showed a significant increase in antibody titers against RdRp. No significant difference was observed in antigenic specificity between a late stage immunized pediatric and re-immunized adult sera. In vitro antiviral analysis of polio-immune sera was carried out. Polio-immune serum demonstrated an antiviral effect in Vero cells by inhibiting SARS-CoV-2-induced cytopathic effect (CPE) at dilutions 1:8 to 1:32. Samples from IPV immunized children and young adults show the strongest inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 CPE. Protection from poliovirus or SARS-CoV-2 declines as one ages. No inhibition of SARS-CoV-2-induced CPE is evident in pre-immunized individuals.

Though older adults receiving an IPV booster dose showed a 35% increase of protection from viral CPE. It was also observed that randomly-selected sera from poliovirus immunized individuals, were effective in inhibiting the enzymatic activity of RdRp.

Thus, it can be inferred that polio-vaccinated individuals have a high level of protection against COVID-19 that non-inoculated individuals do not have. This information would be relevant for policy makers while charting out vaccination schedules. Further studies can be carried out using RdRp as a potential therapeutic target against SARS-CoV-2. 

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