Severe respiratory viral infections, such as influenza, metapneumovirus (HMPV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus (RV), and coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), cause significant mortality and morbidity worldwide. These viruses have been identified as important causative agents of acute respiratory disease in infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. Clinical signs of infection range from mild upper respiratory illness to more serious lower respiratory illness, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Additionally, these illnesses can have long-lasting impact on patient health well beyond resolution of the viral infection. Aside from influenza, there are currently no licensed vaccines against these viruses. However, several research groups have tested various vaccine candidates, including those that utilize attenuated virus, virus-like particles (VLPs), protein subunits, and nanoparticles, as well as recent RNA vaccines, with several of these approaches showing promise. Historically, vaccine candidates have advanced, dependent upon the ability to activate the humoral immune response, specifically leading to strong B cell responses and neutralizing antibody production. More recently, it has been recognized that the cellular immune response is also critical in proper resolution of viral infection and protection against detrimental immunopathology associated with severe disease and therefore, must also be considered when analyzing the efficacy and safety of vaccine candidates. These candidates would ideally result in robust CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses as well as high-affinity neutralizing antibody. This review will aim to summarize established and new approaches that are being examined to harness the cellular immune response during respiratory viral vaccination.
About The Expert
Nicholas W Lukacs