SARS-CoV-2 variants show resistance to neutralization by many monoclonal and serum-derived polyclonal antibodies.Res Sq. 2021 Feb 10RS
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused the global COVID-19 pandemic infecting more than 106 million people and causing 2.3 million deaths. The rapid deployment of antibody-based countermeasures has provided hope for curtailing disease and ending the pandemic 1 . However, the emergence of rapidly-spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), and elsewhere with mutations in the spike protein has raised concern for escape from neutralizing antibody responses and loss of vaccine efficacy based on preliminary data with pseudoviruses 2-4 . Here, using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), animal immune sera, human convalescent sera, and human sera from recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) mRNA vaccine, we report the impact on antibody neutralization of a panel of authentic SARS-CoV-2 variants including a B.1.1.7 isolate, a chimeric Washington strain with a South African spike gene (Wash SA-B.1.351), and isogenic recombinant variants with designed mutations or deletions at positions 69-70, 417, 484, 501, and/or 614 of the spike protein. Several highly neutralizing mAbs engaging the receptor binding domain (RBD) or N-terminal domain (NTD) lost inhibitory activity against Wash SA-B.1.351 or recombinant variants with an E484K spike mutation. Most convalescent sera and virtually all mRNA vaccine-induced immune sera tested showed markedly diminished neutralizing activity against the Wash SA-B.1.351 strain or recombinant viruses containing mutations at position 484 and 501. We also noted that cell line selection used for growth of virus stocks or neutralization assays can impact the potency of antibodies against different SARS-CoV-2 variants, which has implications for assay standardization and congruence of results across laboratories. As several antibodies binding specific regions of the RBD and NTD show loss-of-neutralization potency in vitro against emerging variants, updated mAb cocktails, targeting of highly conserved regions, enhancement of mAb potency, or adjustments to the spike sequences of vaccines may be needed to prevent loss of protection in vivo .