Future Microbiology

Evasion of vaccine-induced humoral immunity by emerging sub-variants of SARS-CoV-2

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Background: Emergence of vaccine-escaping SARS-CoV-2 variants is a serious problem for global public health. The currently rampant Omicron has been shown to possess remarkable vaccine escape; however, the selection pressure exerted by vaccines might pave the way for other escape mutants in the near future. Materials & methods: For detection of neutralizing antibodies, the authors used the recently developed HiBiT-based virus-like particle neutralization test system. Sera after vaccination (two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine) were used to evaluate the neutralizing activity against various strains of SARS-CoV-2. Results: Beta+R346K, which was identified in the Philippines in August 2021, exhibited the highest vaccine resistance among the tested mutants. Surprisingly, Mu+K417N mutant exhibited almost no decrease in neutralization. Imdevimab retained efficacy against these strains. Conclusions: Mutations outside the receptor-binding domain contributed to vaccine escape. Both genomic surveillance and phenotypic analysis synergistically accelerate identifications of vaccine-escaping strains.