Cross-neutralizing antibody against emerging Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2 in infection-naïve individuals with homologous BNT162b2 or BNT162b2(WT + BA.4/5) bivalent booster vaccination

Samuel M.S. Cheng, Chris K.P. Mok, John K.C. Li, Ken K.P. Chan, Kristine S. Luk, Ben H.W. Lee, Haogao Gu, Karl C.K. Chan, Leo C.H. Tsang, Karen Y.S. Yiu, Ken K.C. Ling, Yun Sang Tang, Leo L.H. Luk, Jennifer K.M. Yu, Andrew Pekosz, Richard J. Webby, Benjamin J. Cowling, David S.C. Hui, Malik Peiris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, different variants and subvariants successively emerged to dominate global virus circulation as a result of immune evasion, replication fitness or both. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be updated in response to the emergence of antigenically divergent viruses, the first being the bivalent RNA vaccines that encodes for both the Wuhan-like and Omicron BA.5 subvariant spike proteins. Repeated infections and vaccine breakthrough infections have led to complex immune landscapes in populations making it increasingly difficult to assess the intrinsic neutralizing antibody responses elicited by the vaccines. Hong Kong’s intensive COVID-19 containment policy through 2020–2021 permitted us to identify sera from a small number of infection-naïve individuals who received 3 doses of the RNA BNT162b2 vaccine encoding the Wuhan-like spike (WT) and were boosted with a fourth dose of the WT vaccine or the bivalent WT and BA.4/5 spike (WT + BA.4/5). While neutralizing antibody to wild-type virus was comparable in both vaccine groups, BNT162b2 (WT + BA.4/BA.5) bivalent vaccine elicited significantly higher plaque neutralizing antibodies to Omicron subvariants BA.5, XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, XBB.1.9.1, XBB.2.3.2, EG.5.1, HK.3, BA.2.86 and JN.1, compared to BNT162b2 monovalent vaccine. The single amino acid substitution that differentiates the spike of JN.1 from BA.2.86 resulted in a profound antigenic change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number70
JournalVirology Journal
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024

Keywords

  • Antigenic cartography
  • Bivalent RNA vaccine
  • Immune evasion
  • Infection-naïve
  • Neutralization
  • Omicron subvariant
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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