Convalescent-Phase Sera and Vaccine-Elicited Antibodies Largely Maintain Neutralizing Titer against Global SARS-CoV-2 Variant Spikes.mBio. 2021 06 29; 12(3):e0069621.MBIO
The increasing prevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants with spike protein mutations raises concerns that antibodies elicited by natural infection or vaccination and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies will become less effective. We show that convalescent-phase sera neutralize pseudotyped viruses with the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, B.1.1.248, COH.20G/677H, 20A.EU2, and mink cluster 5 spike proteins with only a minor loss in titer. Similarly, antibodies elicited by Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccination neutralized B.1.351 and B.1.1.248 with only a 3-fold decrease in titer, an effect attributable to E484K. Analysis of the Regeneron monoclonal antibodies REGN10933 and REGN10987 showed that REGN10933 has lost neutralizing activity against the B.1.351 and B.1.1.248 pseudotyped viruses, and the cocktail is 9- to 15-fold decreased in titer. These findings suggest that antibodies elicited by natural infection and by the Pfizer vaccine will maintain protection against the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and B.1.1.248 variants but that monoclonal antibody therapy may be less effective for patients infected with B.1.351 or B.1.1.248 SARS-CoV-2. IMPORTANCE The rapid evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants has raised concerns with regard to their potential to escape from vaccine-elicited antibodies and anti-spike protein monoclonal antibodies. We report here on an analysis of sera from recovered patients and vaccinated individuals and on neutralization by Regeneron therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Overall, the variants were neutralized nearly as well as the wild-type pseudotyped virus. The B.1.351 variant was somewhat resistant to vaccine-elicited antibodies but was still readily neutralized. One of the two Regeneron therapeutic monoclonal antibodies seems to have lost most of its activity against the B.1.351 variant, raising concerns that the combination therapy might be less effective for some patients. The findings should alleviate concerns that vaccines will become ineffective but suggest the importance of continued surveillance for potential new variants.