CV. Human serum from SARS-CoV-2 vaccinated and COVID-19 patients shows reduced binding to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in comparison to the original Wuhan strain and the Beta and Delta variants


Maren Schubert, et al. doi:

Recopilado por Carlos Cabrera Lozada. Miembro Correspondiente Nacional, ANM puesto 16. ORCID: 0000-0002-3133-5183. 10/12/2021


Background The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is caused by the beta coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 manifests itself from mild or even asymptomatic infections to severe forms of life-threatening pneumonia. At the end of November 2021, yet another novel SARS-CoV-2 variant named B.1.1.529 or Omicron was discovered and classified as a variant of concern (VoC) by the WHO. Omicron shows significantly more mutations in the amino acid (aa) sequence of its spike protein than any previous variant, with the majority of those concentrated in the receptor binding domain (RBD). In this work, the binding of the Omicron RBD to the human ACE2 receptor was experimentally analyzed in comparison to the original Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the Beta and Delta variants. Moreover, we compared the ability of human sera from COVID-19 convalescent donors and persons fully vaccinated with BNT162b2 (Corminaty) or Ad26.COV2.S (Janssen COVID-19 vaccine) as well as individuals who had boost vaccine doses with BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 (Spikevax) to bind the different RBDs variants. Methods The Omicron RBD with 15 aa mutations compared to the original Wuhan strain was produced baculovirus-free in insect cells. Binding of the produced Omicron RBD to hACE was analyzed by ELISA. Sera from 27 COVID-19 patients, of whom 21 were fully vaccinated and 16 booster recipients were titrated on the original Wuhan strain, Beta, Delta and Omicron RBD and compared to the first WHO International Standard for anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin (human) using the original Wuhan strain as reference. Results The Omicron RBD showed a slightly reduced binding to ACE2 compared to the other RBDs. The serum of COVID-19 patients, BNT162b2 vaccinated and boost vaccinated persons showed a reduced binding to Omicron RBD in comparison to the original Wuhan strain, Beta und Delta RBDs. In this assay, the boost vaccination did not improve the RBD binding when compared to the BNT162b2 fully vaccinated group. The RBD binding of the Ad26.COV2.S serum group was lower at all compared to the other groups. Conclusions The reduced binding of human sera to Omicron RBD provides first hints that the current vaccinations using BNT162b2, mRNA-1273 and Ad26.COV2.S may be less efficient in preventing infections with the Omicron variant.

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