Feb 16, 2022: mRNA vaccine-induced antibodies more effective than natural immunity in neutralising SARS-CoV-2 and its high affinity variants



Several variants of SARS-CoV-2 have emerged. Those with mutations in the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE2) receptor binding domain (RBD) are associated with increased transmission and severity. In this study, we developed both antibody quantification and functional neutralization assays. Analyses of both COVID-19 convalescent and diagnostic cohorts strongly support the use of RBD antibody levels as an excellent surrogate to biochemical neutralization activities. Data further revealed that the samples from mRNA vaccinated individuals had a median of 17 times higher RBD antibody levels and a similar degree of increased neutralization activities against RBD-ACE2 binding than those from natural infections. Our data showed that N501Y RBD had fivefold higher ACE2 binding than the original variant. While some antisera from naturally infected subjects had substantially reduced neutralization ability against N501Y RBD, all blood samples from vaccinated individuals were highly effective in neutralizing it. Thus, our data indicates that mRNA vaccination may generate more neutralizing RBD antibodies than natural immunity. It further suggests a potential need to maintain high RBD antibody levels to control the more infectious SARS-CoV-2 variants.



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