Loss of Pfizer (BNT162b2) Vaccine-Induced Antibody Responses against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant in Adolescents and Adults

Sneh Lata Gupta, Grace Mantus, Kelly E. Manning, Madison Ellis, Mit Patel, Caroline Rose Ciric, Austin Lu, Jackson S. Turner, Jane A. O’Halloran, Rachel M. Presti, Devyani Jaideep Joshi, Ali H. Ellebedy, Evan J. Anderson, Christina A. Rostad, Mehul S. Suthar, Jens Wrammert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Emerging variants, especially the recent Omicron variant, and gaps in vaccine coverage threaten mRNA vaccine mediated protection against SARS-CoV-2. While children have been relatively spared by the ongoing pandemic, increasing case numbers and hospitalizations are now evident among children. Thus, it is essential to better understand the magnitude and breadth of vaccine-induced immunity in children against circulating viral variant of concerns (VOCs). Here, we compared the magnitude and breadth of humoral immune responses in adolescents and adults 1 month after the two-dose Pfizer (BNT162b2) vaccination. We found that adolescents (aged 11 to 16) demonstrated more robust binding antibody and neutralization responses against the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein contained in the vaccine compared to adults (aged 27 to 55). The quality of the antibody responses against VOCs in adolescents were very similar to adults, with modest changes in binding and neutralization of Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants. In comparison, a significant reduction of binding titers and a striking lack of neutralization was observed against the newly emerging Omicron variant for both adolescents and adults. Overall, our data show that a two-dose BNT162b2 vaccine series may be insufficient to protect against the Omicron variant. IMPORTANCE While plasma binding and neutralizing antibody responses have been reported for cohorts of infected and vaccinated adults, much less is known about the vaccine-induced antibody responses to variants including Omicron in children. This illustrates the need to characterize vaccine efficacy in key vulnerable populations. A third (booster) dose of BNTb162b was approved for children 12 to 15 years of age by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on January 1, 2022, and pediatric clinical trials are under way to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity, and effectiveness of a third dose in younger children. Similarly, variant-specific booster doses and pan-coronavirus vaccines are areas of active research. Our data show adolescents mounted stronger humoral immune responses after vaccination than adults. It also highlights the need for future studies of antibody durability in adolescents and children as well as the need for future studies of booster vaccination and their efficacy against the Omicron variant.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of virology
Volume96
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Omicron (B.1.1.529)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2)
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • adolescents
  • antibody binding titers
  • seasonal beta coronavirus
  • variant of concerns (VOCs)
  • virus neutralization

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