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To contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a safe and effective vaccine against the new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is urgently needed in quantities sufficient to immunise large populations. In this study, we report the design, preclinical development, immunogenicity and anti-viral protective effect in rhesus macaques of the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate. BNT162b2 contains an LNP-formulated nucleoside-modified mRNA that encodes the spike glycoprotein captured in its prefusion conformation. After expression of the BNT162b2 coding sequence in cells, approximately 20% of the spike molecules are in the one-RBD ‘up’, two-RBD ‘down’ state. Immunisation of mice with a single dose of BNT162b2 induced dose level-dependent increases in pseudovirus neutralisation titers. Prime-boost vaccination of rhesus macaques elicited authentic SARS-CoV-2 neutralising geometric mean titers 10.2 to 18.0 times that of a SARS-CoV-2 convalescent human serum panel. BNT162b2 generated strong TH1 type CD4+ and IFNγ+ CD8+ T-cell responses in mice and rhesus macaques. The BNT162b2 vaccine candidate fully protected the lungs of immunised rhesus macaques from infectious SARS-CoV-2 challenge. BNT162b2 is currently being evaluated in a global, pivotal Phase 2/3 trial ([NCT04368728][1]). ### Competing Interest Statement U.S. and O.T. are management board members and employees at BioNTech SE (Mainz, Germany); K.C.W., B.G.L., D.S., B.J., T.K. and C.R. are employees at BioNTech SE; A.B.V., A.M., M.V., L.M.K., S.He., A.G., T.Z., A.P., D.E., S.C.D., S.F., S.E., F.B., B.S., A.W., Y.F., H.J., S.A.K., A.P.H., P.A., J.S., C.K., and A.N.K. are employees at BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals GmbH (Mainz, Germany); A.B.V., A.M., K.C.W., A.G., S.F., A.N.K and U.S. are inventors on patents and patent applications related to RNA technology and COVID-19 vaccine; A.B.V., A.M., M.V., L.M.K., K.C.W., S.He., B.G.L., A.P., D.E., S.C.D., S.F., S.E., D.S., B.J., B.S., A.P.H., P.A., J.S., C.K., T.K., C.R., A.N.K., O.T. and U.S. have securities from BioNTech SE; I.K., Y.C., K.A.S., J.L., M.M., K.T., M.C.G., S.H., J.A.L.,E.H.M., P.V.S., C.Y.T., D.P., G.S., M.P., I.L.S., T.C., J.O., W.V.K., P.R.D. and K.U.J. are employees of Pfizer and may hold stock options; C.F.-G. and P.-Y.S. received compensation from Pfizer to perform neutralisation assays; J.C., S.H.-U, K.B., R.C., jr., K.J.A. and D.K., are employees of Southwest National Primate Research Center, which received compensation from Pfizer to conduct the animal challenge work; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work. [1]: /lookup/external-ref?link_type=CLINTRIALGOV&access_num=NCT04368728&atom=%2Fbiorxiv%2Fearly%2F2020%2F09%2F08%2F2020.09.08.280818.atom

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