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Resistance of Omicron subvariants BA.2.75.2, BA.4.6, and BQ.1.1 to neutralizing antibodies

Nat Commun.

Planas D, Bruel T, Staropoli I, Guivel-Benhassine F, Porrot F, Maes P, Grzelak L, Prot M, Mougari S, Planchais C, Puech J, Saliba M, Sahraoui R, Fémy F, Morel N, Dufloo J, Sanjuán R, Mouquet H, André E, Hocqueloux L, Simon-Loriere E, Veyer D, Prazuck T, Péré H, Schwartz O.

Convergent evolution of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5 lineages has led to the emergence of several new subvariants, including BA.2.75.2, BA.4.6. and BQ.1.1. The subvariant BQ.1.1 became predominant in many countries in December 2022. The subvariants carry an additional and often redundant set of mutations in the spike, likely responsible for increased transmissibility and immune evasion. Here, we established a viral amplification procedure to easily isolate Omicron strains. We examined their sensitivity to 6 therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and to 72 sera from Pfizer BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals, with or without BA.1/BA.2 or BA.5 breakthrough infection. Ronapreve (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) and Evusheld (Cilgavimab and Tixagevimab) lose antiviral efficacy against BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1, whereas Xevudy (Sotrovimab) remaine weakly active. BQ.1.1 is also resistant to Bebtelovimab. Neutralizing titers in triply vaccinated individuals are low to undetectable against BQ.1.1 and BA.2.75.2, 4 months after boosting. A BA.1/BA.2 breakthrough infection increases these titers, which remains about 18-fold lower against BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1, than against BA.1. Reciprocally, a BA.5 breakthrough infection increases more efficiently neutralization against BA.5 and BQ.1.1 than against BA.2.75.2. Thus, the evolution trajectory of novel Omicron subvariants facilitates their spread in immunized populations and raises concerns about the efficacy of most available mAbs.

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