Poliovirus Vaccination Induces a Humoral Immune Response That Cross Reacts With SARS-CoV-2

Brittany A. Comunale, Lilly Engineer, Yong Jiang, John C. Andrews, Qianna Liu, Lyuqing Ji, James T. Yurkovich, Roderick A. Comunale, Qiyi Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Millions have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, but the severity of resultant infections has varied among adults and children, with adults presenting more serious symptomatic cases. Children may possess an immunity that adults lack, possibly from childhood vaccinations. This retrospective study suggests immunization against the poliovirus may provide an immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Methods: Publicly available data were analyzed for possible correlations between national median ages and epidemiological outbreak patterns across 100 countries. Sera from 204 adults and children, who were immunized with the poliovirus vaccine, were analyzed using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The effects of polio-immune serum on SARS-CoV-2-induced cytopathology in cell culture were then evaluated. Results: Analyses of median population age demonstrated a positive correlation between median age and SARS-CoV-2 prevalence and death rates. Countries with effective poliovirus immunization protocols and younger populations have fewer and less pathogenic cases of COVID-19. Antibodies to poliovirus and SARS-CoV-2 were found in pediatric sera and in sera from adults recently immunized with polio. Sera from polio-immunized individuals inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection of Vero cell cultures. These results suggest the anti-D3-pol-antibody, induced by poliovirus vaccination, may provide a similar degree of protection from SARS-CoV-2 to adults as to children. Conclusions: Poliovirus vaccination induces an adaptive humoral immune response. Antibodies created by poliovirus vaccination bind the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) protein of both poliovirus and SARS-CoV-2, thereby preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection. These findings suggest proteins other than “spike” proteins may be suitable targets for immunity and vaccine development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number710010
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 3 2021


  • RdRp protein
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • adaptive immunity
  • cross-reactivity
  • immunization
  • poliovirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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