Development of a recombinant H9N2 influenza vaccine candidate against the Y280 lineage field virus and its protective efficacy

Since June 2020, a new H9N2 virus of the Y280 lineage has been epidemic in Korea. Initially, a Korean commercial vaccine against the Y280 and Y439 lineages of H9N2 was evaluated for use in SPF chickens. A single vaccination did not protect chickens against virus of the Y280 lineage, with no significant reduction in virus shedding and a 37.5% inhibition in virus recovery rate in cecal tonsil. rgHS314 was selected as a vaccine candidate, showing immunogenicity in SPF chickens, and was highly productive in eggs. Moreover, rgHS314 protected with high levels of protective immunity and significantly reduced virus shedding, with 100% and 83.3% inhibition of virus recovery in the cecal tonsil against homologous and heterologous challenge viruses, respectively. Taken together, these data suggest that a single vaccination with this recombinant vaccine candidate could elicit cross-reactive immune responses capable of protecting chickens against H9N2 viruses of the Y439 and Y280 lineages.