Pregnancy confers unique immune responses to infection and vaccination across gestation. To date, there are limited data comparing vaccine- and infection-induced neutralizing Abs (nAbs) against COVID-19 variants in mothers during pregnancy. We analyzed paired maternal and cord plasma samples from 60 pregnant individuals. Thirty women vaccinated with mRNA vaccines (from December 2020 through August 2021) were matched with 30 naturally infected women (from March 2020 through January 2021) by gestational age of exposure. Neutralization activity against the 5 SARS-CoV-2 spike sequences was measured by a SARS-CoV-2-pseudotyped spike virion assay. Effective nAbs against SARS-CoV-2 were present in maternal and cord plasma after both infection and vaccination. Compared with WT spike protein, these nAbs were less effective against the Delta and Mu spike variants. Vaccination during the third trimester induced higher cord-nAb levels at delivery than did infection during the third trimester. In contrast, vaccine-induced nAb levels were lower at the time of delivery compared with infection during the first trimester. The transfer ratio (cord nAb level divided by maternal nAb level) was greatest in mothers vaccinated in the second trimester. SARS-CoV-2 vaccination or infection in pregnancy elicits effective nAbs with differing neutralization kinetics that are influenced by gestational time of exposure.
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