The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein is the main target for neutralizing antibodies. These antibodies can be elicited through immunization or passively transferred as therapeutics in the form of convalescent-phase sera or monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Potently neutralizing antibodies are expected to confer protection; however, it is unclear whether weakly neutralizing antibodies contribute to protection. Also, their mechanism of action in vivo is incompletely understood. Here, we demonstrate that 2B04, an antibody with an ultrapotent neutralizing activity (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] of 0.04 mg/ml), protects hamsters against SARS-CoV-2 in a prophylactic and therapeutic infection model. Protection is associated with reduced weight loss and viral loads in nasal turbinates and lungs after challenge. MAb 2B04 also blocked aerosol transmission of the virus to naive contacts. We next examined three additional MAbs (2C02, 2C03, and 2E06), recognizing distinct epitopes within the receptor binding domain of spike protein that possess either minimal (2C02 and 2E06, IC50 . 20 mg/ml) or weak (2C03, IC50 of 5 mg/ml) virus neutralization capacity in vitro. Only 2C03 protected Syrian hamsters from weight loss and reduced lung viral load after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Finally, we demonstrated that Fc-Fc receptor interactions were not required for protection when 2B04 and 2C03 were administered prophylactically. These findings inform the mechanism of protection and support the rational development of antibody-mediated protection against SARS-CoV-2 infections.
- Monoclonal antibodies
- Syrian hamster