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medrxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.08.12.22278720


To evaluate SARS-CoV-2 variants we isolated SARS-CoV-2 temporally during the pandemic starting with first appearance of virus in the Western hemisphere near Seattle, WA, USA, and isolated each known major variant class, revealing the dynamics of emergence and complete take-over of all new cases by current Omicron variants. We assessed virus neutralization in a first-ever full comparison across variants and evaluated a novel monoclonal antibody (Mab). We found that convalescence greater than 5-months provides little-to-no protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants, vaccination enhances immunity against variants with the exception of Omicron BA.1, and paired testing of vaccine sera against ancestral virus compared to Omicron BA.1 shows that 3-dose vaccine regimen provides over 50-fold enhanced protection against Omicron BA.1 compared to a 2-dose regimen. We also reveal a novel Mab that effectively neutralizes Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants over clinically-approved Mabs. Our observations underscore the need for continued vaccination efforts, with innovation for vaccine and Mab improvement, for protection against variants of SARS-CoV-2. SummaryWe isolated SARS-CoV-2 temporally starting with emergence of virus in the Western hemisphere. Neutralization analyses across all variant lineages show that vaccine-boost regimen provides protection against Omicron BA.1. We reveal a Mab that protects against Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants.

biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.03.15.484542


The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern comprises three sublineages designated BA.1, BA.2, and BA.3, with BA.2 steadily replacing the globally dominant BA.1. We show that the large number of BA.1 and BA.2 spike mutations severely dampen plasma neutralizing activity elicited by infection or seven clinical vaccines, with cross-neutralization of BA.2 being consistently more potent than that of BA.1, independent of the vaccine platform and number of doses. Although mRNA vaccines induced the greatest magnitude of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 plasma neutralizing activity, administration of a booster based on the Wuhan-Hu-1 spike sequence markedly increased neutralizing antibody titers and breadth against BA.1 and BA.2 across all vaccines evaluated. Our data suggest that although BA.1 and BA.2 evade polyclonal neutralizing antibody responses, current vaccine boosting regimens may provide sufficient protection against Omicron-induced disease.

biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.19.473391


Numerous safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been developed that utilize various delivery technologies and engineering strategies. The influence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein conformation on antibody responses induced by vaccination or infection in humans remains unknown. To address this question, we compared plasma antibodies elicited by six globally-distributed vaccines or infection and observed markedly higher binding titers for vaccines encoding a prefusion-stabilized S relative to other groups. Prefusion S binding titers positively correlated with plasma neutralizing activity, indicating that physical stabilization of the prefusion conformation enhances protection against SARS-CoV-2. We show that almost all plasma neutralizing activity is directed to prefusion S, in particular the S1 subunit, and that variant cross-neutralization is mediated solely by RBD-specific antibodies. Our data provide a quantitative framework for guiding future S engineering efforts to develop vaccines with higher resilience to the emergence of variants and longer durability than current technologies.

COVID-19 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.12.472269


The recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant harbors 37 amino acid substitutions in the spike (S) protein, 15 of which are in the receptor-binding domain (RBD), thereby raising concerns about the effectiveness of available vaccines and antibody therapeutics. Here, we show that the Omicron RBD binds to human ACE2 with enhanced affinity relative to the Wuhan-Hu-1 RBD and acquires binding to mouse ACE2. Severe reductions of plasma neutralizing activity were observed against Omicron compared to the ancestral pseudovirus for vaccinated and convalescent individuals. Most (26 out of 29) receptor-binding motif (RBM)-directed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) lost in vitro neutralizing activity against Omicron, with only three mAbs, including the ACE2-mimicking S2K146 mAb, retaining unaltered potency. Furthermore, a fraction of broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus mAbs recognizing antigenic sites outside the RBM, including sotrovimab, S2X259 and S2H97, neutralized Omicron. The magnitude of Omicron-mediated immune evasion and the acquisition of binding to mouse ACE2 mark a major SARS-CoV-2 mutational shift. Broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus mAbs recognizing epitopes conserved among SARS-CoV-2 variants and other sarbecoviruses may prove key to controlling the ongoing pandemic and future zoonotic spillovers.