Reemers S, Verstegen I, Basten S, Hubers W, van de. A broad spectrum HVT-H5 avian influenza vector vaccine which induces a rapid onset of immunity. Vaccine. 2021 Jan 19:S0264-410X(21)00022-0
Current methods to combat highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry rely on stamping out and preventive culling, which can lead to high economic losses and invoke ethical resistance. Emergency vaccination could be an alternative as vaccination is one of the most efficient and cost-effective measures to protect poultry from HPAI infection, preventing spreading to other poultry and greatly reducing the potential transmission to humans. Current conventional inactivated AI vaccines may be useful for combating AI outbreaks, but do not fulfil all targets of an ideal AI vaccine, including mass applicability and rapid onset of immunity. We aimed to further investigate the potential of Herpesvirus of Turkeys (HVT) as a vector containing a recombinant H5 hemagglutinin of HPAI H5N1. This HVT-H5 vector was analysed in vitro, tested for onset of immunity against AI challenge, breadth of protection, reduction of virus shedding, and induction of both antibody and cellular responses in SPF layers or broiler chicks containing maternal derived antibodies (MDA+). In SPF layers HVT-H5 provided full protection to lethal challenges with 4 antigenically diverse HPAI H5N1 strains from 2 weeks post vaccination (w.p.v.), while in MDA+ birds full protection was provided from 3 w.p.v. to homologous challenge. Also shedding of challenge virus was reduced in both SPF and MDA+ birds. HVT-H5 induced a protective HI titre (≥4) to 11 HPAI H5N1 strains at 3 w.p.v. in 3-week-old SPF layers and to HPAI H5N8 A/ch/Neth/14015531/2014. Besides inducing a protective antibody response HVT-H5 also induced an influenza-specific T cell response. This data demonstrates that HVT-H5 vaccine appears to fulfil many of the criteria for an ideal AI vaccine including early onset of immunity, a broad protection, reduced virus shedding, protection in presence of AI-MDA and could be a useful tool in the combat of AI outbreaks worldwide.
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