Senior Project Advisor

Jeanine Amacher

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) arose as a novel virus in Wuhan China in December 2019. Then, as it rapidly spread across the world, it was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization in March 2020. SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has dramatically disrupted both normal life and the economy. In the past year and a half, there have been over 175 million cases globally1 (as of June 15, 2021). High death rates, disruption to education, and widespread job loss has necessitated the desperate need for a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. A vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 and enable a safe return to pre-pandemic social life. Across the world, money and research have been poured into the vaccine, resulting in the fastest vaccine development in history. The Pfizer-BioNtech mRNA vaccine, one of the first widely available vaccines, was approved by emergency authorization in Britain on December 2, 2020, and then by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States on December 11, 2020. Soon after, on December 18, the Moderna vaccine, another mRNA vaccine, was also approved for emergency use2. There are several different vaccines in production and under development, but the focus of this paper is specifically on the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, and the antibody responses these vaccines elicit based on the use of the spike protein as an antigen. The binding of antibodies, generated through vaccination, to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 effectively neutralizes the virus, and understanding the details of the interactions between the spike protein and different antibodies is essential for understanding the specifics of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 upon which the vaccine is based and the effect novel variants may have on the effectivity of the vaccine.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

COVID-19 (Disease)--Vaccination; Vaccines--Effectiveness; Antigen-antibody reactions

Subjects - Names (LCNAF)

Pfizer Pharmaceuticals






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