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Embase; 2022.
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-338256


Omicron (B.1.1.529) shows extensive escape from vaccine immunity, although vaccination reduces severe disease and death1. Boosting with vaccines incorporating variant spike sequences could possibly broaden immunity2. One approach to choose the variant may be to measure immunity elicited by vaccination combined with variant infection. Here we investigated Omicron neutralization in people infected with the Beta (B.1.351) variant and subsequently vaccinated with Pfizer BNT162b2. We observed that Beta infection alone elicited poor Omicron cross-neutralization, similar to what we previously found3 with BNT162b2 vaccination alone or in combination with ancestral or Delta virus infection. In contrast, Beta infection combined with BNT162b2 vaccination elicited neutralization with substantially lower Omicron escape.

PubMed; 2022.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-329164


The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 lineage, Omicron variant, was first detected in November 2021 and carries 32 amino acid mutations in the spike protein (15 in RBD) and exhibits significant escape of neutralizing antibodies targeting the parental SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, we performed a high-resolution multiplex (16-plex) surrogate virus neutralization assay covering all major SARS-CoV-2 variants and pre-emergent ACE2-binding sarbecoviruses against 20 different human serum panels from infected, vaccinated and hybrid immune individuals which had vaccine-breakthrough infections or infection followed by vaccination. Among all sarbecoviruses tested, we observed 1.1 to 4.7-, 2.3 to 10.3- and 0.7 to 33.3-fold reduction in neutralization activities to SARS-CoV-2 Beta, Omicron and SARS-CoV-1, respectively. Among the SARS-CoV-2 related sarbecoviruses, it is found that the genetically more distant bat RaTG13 and pangolin GX-P5L sarbecoviruses had less neutralization escape than Omicron. Our data suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 variants emerged from the changed immune landscape of human populations are more potent in escaping neutralizing antibodies, from infection or vaccination, than pre-emergent sarbecoviruses naturally evolved in animal populations with no or less immune selection pressure.

PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-296585


Characterizing SARS-CoV-2 evolution in specific geographies may help predict the properties of variants coming from these regions. We mapped neutralization of a SARS-CoV-2 strain that evolved over 6 months from the ancestral virus in a person with advanced HIV disease. Infection was before the emergence of the Beta variant first identified in South Africa, and the Delta variant. We compared early and late evolved virus to the ancestral, Beta, Alpha, and Delta viruses and tested against convalescent plasma from ancestral, Beta, and Delta infections. Early virus was similar to ancestral, whereas late virus was similar to Beta, exhibiting vaccine escape and, despite pre-dating Delta, strong escape of Delta-elicited neutralization. This example is consistent with the notion that variants arising in immune-compromised hosts, including those with advanced HIV disease, may evolve immune escape of vaccines and enhanced escape of Delta immunity, with implications for vaccine breakthrough and reinfections. Highlights: A prolonged ancestral SARS-CoV-2 infection pre-dating the emergence of Beta and Delta resulted in evolution of a Beta-like serological phenotypeSerological phenotype includes strong escape from Delta infection elicited immunity, intermediate escape from ancestral virus immunity, and weak escape from Beta immunityEvolved virus showed substantial but incomplete escape from antibodies elicited by BNT162b2 vaccination. Graphical abstract:

PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-296584


The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, may compromise the ability of vaccine and previous infection (1) elicited immunity to protect against new infection. Here we investigated whether Omicron escapes antibody neutralization elicited by the Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in people who were vaccinated only or vaccinated and previously infected. We also investigated whether the virus still requires binding to the ACE2 receptor to infect cells. We isolated and sequence confirmed live Omicron virus from an infected person in South Africa. We then compared neutralization of this virus relative to an ancestral SARS-CoV-2 strain with the D614G mutation. Neutralization was by blood plasma from South African BNT162b2 vaccinated individuals. We observed that Omicron still required the ACE2 receptor to infect but had extensive escape of Pfizer elicited neutralization. However, 5 out of 6 of the previously infected, Pfizer vaccinated individuals, all of them with high neutralization of D614G virus, showed residual neutralization at levels expected to confer protection from infection and severe disease (2). While vaccine effectiveness against Omicron is still to be determined, these data support the notion that high neutralization capacity elicited by a combination of infection and vaccination, and possibly by boosting, could maintain reasonable effectiveness against Omicron. If neutralization capacity is lower or wanes with time, protection against infection is likely to be low. However, protection against severe disease, requiring lower neutralization levels and involving T cell immunity, would likely be maintained.

Topics in Antiviral Medicine ; 29(1):89, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1250005


Background: New SARS-CoV-2 variants with mutations in the spike glycoprotein have arisen independently at multiple locations and may have functional significance. The combination of mutations in the 501Y.V2 variant first detected in South Africa include the N501Y, K417N, and E484K mutations in the receptor binding domain (RBD) as well as mutations in the N-terminal domain (NTD). Here we address whether the 501Y.V2 variant could escape the neutralizing antibody response elicited by natural infection with earlier variants. Methods: We were the first to outgrow two variants of 501Y.V2 from South Africa, designated 501Y.V2.HV001 and 501Y.V2.HVdF002. We examined the neutralizing effect of convalescent plasma collected from adults hospitalized with COVID-19 using a microneutralization assay with live (authentic) virus. Whole genome sequencing of the infecting virus of the plasma donors confirmed the absence of the spike mutations which characterize 501Y.V2. We infected with 501Y.V2.HV001 and 501Y.V2.HVdF002 and compared plasma neutralization to first wave virus which contained the D614G mutation but no RBD or NTD mutations. Results: We observed a reduction in antibody activity ranging from 6-fold to knockout for the 501Y.V2 (B.1.351) relative to the B.1.1 variant derived from the first wave of the pandemic in South Africa. Conclusion: This observation indicates that 501Y.V2 may escape the neutralizing antibody response elicited by prior natural infection. It raises a concern of potential reduced protection against re-infection and by vaccines designed to target the spike protein of earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants.