B.1.526 SARS-CoV-2 Variants Identified in New York City are Neutralized by Vaccine-Elicited and Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies.mBio. 2021 08 31; 12(4):e0138621.MBIO
DNA sequence analysis recently identified the novel SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.526 that is spreading at an alarming rate in the New York City area. Two versions of the variant were identified, both with the prevalent D614G mutation in the spike protein, together with four novel point mutations and with an E484K or S477N mutation in the receptor-binding domain, raising concerns of possible resistance to vaccine-elicited and therapeutic antibodies. We report that convalescent-phase sera and vaccine-elicited antibodies retain full neutralizing titer against the S477N B.1.526 variant and neutralize the E484K version with a modest 3.5-fold decrease in titer compared to D614G. The E484K version was neutralized with a 12-fold decrease in titer by the REGN10933 monoclonal antibody, but the combination cocktail with REGN10987 was fully active. The findings suggest that current vaccines and Regeneron therapeutic monoclonal antibodies will remain protective against the B.1.526 variants. The findings further support the value of widespread vaccination. IMPORTANCE A novel SARS-CoV-2 variant termed B.1.526 was recently identified in New York City and has been found to be spreading at an alarming rate. The variant has mutations in its spike protein that might allow it to escape neutralization by vaccine-elicited antibodies and might cause monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19 to be less successful. We report here that these fears are not substantiated; convalescent-phase sera and vaccine-elicited antibodies neutralized the B.1.526 variant. One of the Regeneron therapeutic monoclonal antibodies was less effective against the B.1.526 (E484K) variant but the two-antibody combination cocktail was fully active. The findings should assuage concerns that current vaccines will be ineffective against the B.1.526 (E484K) variant and suggest the importance of continued widespread vaccination.