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Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron pseudovirus by BNT162b2 vaccine-elicited human sera

By Alexander Muik, Bonny Gaby Lui, Ann-Kathrin Wallisch, Maren Bacher, Julia Muehl, Jonas Reinholz, Orkun Ozhelvaci, Nina Beckmann, Ramon de la Caridad Guimil Garcia, Asaf Poran, Svetlana Shpyro, Hui Cai, Qi Yang, Kena Anne Swanson, Oezlem Tuereci, Ugur Sahin

Posted 23 Dec 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.22.21268103

A new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) lineage, B.1.1.529, was recently detected in Botswana and South Africa and is now circulating globally. Just two days after it was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), this strain was classified as a variant of concern (VOC) and named Omicron. Omicron has an unusually large number of mutations, including up to 39 amino acid modifications in the spike (S) protein, raising concerns that its recognition by neutralizing antibodies from convalescent and vaccinated individuals may be severely compromised. In this study, we tested pseudoviruses carrying the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoproteins of either the Wuhan reference strain, the Beta, the Delta or the Omicron variants of concern with sera of 51 participants that received two doses or a third dose ([≥]6 months after dose 2) of the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2. Immune sera from individuals who received two doses of BNT162b2 had more than 22-fold reduced neutralizing titers against the Omicron as compared to the Wuhan pseudovirus. One month after a third dose of BNT162b2, the neutralization titer against Omicron was increased 23-fold compared to two doses and antibody titers were similar to those observed against the Wuhan pseudovirus after two doses of BNT162b2. These data suggest that a third dose of BNT162b2 may protect against Omicron-mediated COVID-19, but further analyses of longer-term antibody persistence and real-world effectiveness data are needed.

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