Omicron variant Spike-specific antibody binding and Fc activity are preserved in recipients of mRNA or inactivated COVID-19 vaccines

Yannic C. Bartsch, Xin Tong, Jaewon Kang, María Jose Avendano, Eileen F. Serrano, Tamara García-Salum, Catalina Pardo-Roa, Arnoldo Riquelme, Yongfei Cai, Isabella Renzi, Guillaume Stewart-Jones, Bing Chen, Rafael A. Medina, Galit Alter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to evade neutralizing antibodies elicited by vaccination or infection. Despite the global spread of the Omicron variant, even among highly vaccinated populations, death rates have not increased concomitantly. These data suggest that immune mechanisms beyond antibody-mediated virus neutralization may protect against severe disease. In addition to neutralizing pathogens, antibodies contribute to control and clearance of infections through Fc effector mechanisms. Here, we probed the ability of vaccine-induced antibodies to drive Fc effector activity against the Omicron variant using samples from individuals receiving one of three SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Despite a substantial loss of IgM, IgA, and IgG binding to the Omicron variant receptor binding domain (RBD) in samples from individuals receiving BNT162b2, mRNA-1273, and CoronaVac vaccines, stable binding was maintained against the full-length Omicron Spike protein. Compromised RBD binding IgG was accompanied by a loss of RBD-specific antibody Fcγ receptor (FcγR) binding in samples from individuals who received the CoronaVac vaccine, but RBD-specific FcγR2a and FcγR3a binding was preserved in recipients of mRNA vaccines. Conversely, Spike protein-specific antibodies exhibited persistent but reduced binding to FcγRs across all three vaccines, although higher binding was observed in samples from recipients of mRNA vaccines. This was associated with preservation of FcγR2a and FcγR3a binding antibodies and maintenance of Spike protein- specific antibody-dependent natural killer cell activation. Thus, despite the loss of Omicron neutralization, vaccine-induced Spike protein-specific antibodies continue to drive Fc effector functions, suggesting a capacity for extraneutralizing antibodies to contribute to disease control.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabn9243
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number642
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2022


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