Due to numerous mutations in the spike protein, the SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern Omicron (B.1.1.529) raises serious concerns since it may significantly limit the antibody-mediated neutralization and increase the risk of reinfections. While a rapid increase in the number of cases is being reported worldwide, until now there has been uncertainty about the efficacy of vaccinations and monoclonal antibodies. Our in vitro findings using authentic SARS-CoV-2 variants indicate that in contrast to the currently circulating Delta variant, the neutralization efficacy of vaccine-elicited sera against Omicron was severely reduced highlighting T-cell mediated immunity as essential barrier to prevent severe COVID-19. Since SARS-CoV-2 Omicron was resistant to casirivimab and imdevimab genotyping of SARS-CoV-2 may be needed before initiating mAb treatment. Variant-specific vaccines and mAb agents may be required to treat Omicron and other emerging variants of concern.
Competing Interest Statement
S.C. was a member of a clinical advisory board for Biontech. T.W. received speaker and consultancy fees from Gilead Sciences, Merck Sharp Dome, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. All other authors declare no conflict of interest.
This study has been performed with the support of the Goethe-Corona-Fund of the Goethe University Frankfurt (MW) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (COVIDready; grant 02WRS1621C (MW). We are thankful for the numerous donations to the Goethe-Corona-Fund and the support of our SARS-CoV-2 research.
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Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv
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