© 2022 Tech Science Press. All rights reserved.Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are characterized by their ability to monitor physical or chemical phenomena in a static or dynamic location by collecting data, and transmit it in a collaborative manner to one or more processing centers wirelessly using a routing protocol. Energy dissipation is one of the most challenging issues due to the limited power supply at the sensor node. All routing protocols are large consumers of energy, as they represent the main source of energy cost through data exchange operation. Cluster-based hierarchical routing algorithms are known for their good performance in energy conservation during active data exchange in WSNs. The most common of this type of protocol is the Low-Energy Adaptive Clustering Hierarchy (LEACH), which suffers from the problem of the pseudo-random selection of cluster head resulting in large power dissipation. This critical issue can be addressed by using an optimization algorithm to improve the LEACH cluster heads selection process, thus increasing the network lifespan. This paper proposes the LEACH-CHIO, a centralized cluster-based energy-aware protocol based on the Coronavirus Herd Immunity Optimizer (CHIO) algorithm. CHIO is a newly emerging human-based optimization algorithm that is expected to achieve significant improvement in the LEACH cluster heads selection process. LEACH-CHIO is implemented and its performance is verified by simulating different wireless sensor network scenarios, which consist of a variable number of nodes ranging from 20 to 100. To evaluate the algorithm performances, three evaluation indicators have been examined, namely, power consumption, number of live nodes, and number of incoming packets. The simulation results demonstrated the superiority of the proposed protocol over basic LEACH protocol for the three indicators.