On 24th November 2021, the sequence of a new SARS-CoV-2 viral isolate Omicron-B.1.1.529 was announced, containing far more mutations in Spike (S) than previously reported variants. Neutralization titers of Omicron by sera from vaccinees and convalescent subjects infected with early pandemic Alpha, Beta, Gamma, or Delta are substantially reduced, or the sera failed to neutralize. Titers against Omicron are boosted by third vaccine doses and are high in both vaccinated individuals and those infected by Delta. Mutations in Omicron knock out or substantially reduce neutralization by most of the large panel of potent monoclonal antibodies and antibodies under commercial development. Omicron S has structural changes from earlier viruses and uses mutations that confer tight binding to ACE2 to unleash evolution driven by immune escape. This leads to a large number of mutations in the ACE2 binding site and rebalances receptor affinity to that of earlier pandemic viruses.


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Lambe, T., Pollard, A., Crook, D., Webster, H., Dunachie, S., Barnes, E., Klenerman, P., Carroll, M., Tan, T., Huang, K., Townsend, A., Semple, M., Baillie, J., Openshaw, P., Malik, T., Nunes, C., Madhi, S., Kwatra, G., Serafin, N., Baillie, V., Siqueira, M., Pauvolid-Correa, A., Resende, P., Fernandes da Costa, C., Nascimento, F., Nascimento, V., Naveca, F., Costa Clemens, S., Voysey, M. & Aley, P. 2022, 'SARS-CoV-2 Omicron-B.1.1.529 leads to widespread escape from neutralizing antibody responses', Cell, 185(3), pp. 467-484, article no: e15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.12.046

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Last updated: 04 October 2022
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