Sensitivity of the SARS-CoV-2 BA.2.86 variant to prevailing neutralising antibody responses
Daniel J Sheward,Yiqiu Yang,Michelle Westerberg,Sofia Öling,Sandra Muschiol,Kenta Sato,Thomas P Peacock,Gunilla B Karlsson Hedestam,Jan Albert,Ben Murrell
The Lancet Infectious Diseases Published:September 27, 2023
After a prolonged period of near-complete global dominance of the recombinant XBB family of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, a substantially mutated sublineage of BA.2 has recently emerged. Designated BA.2.86,1the geographic origin of this sublineage is currently unclear and, as of Sept 20, 2023, BA.2.86 sequences have been observed in at least 20 countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the UK, and the USA (appendix p 8).
With a long branch of unobserved evolution (figure A), including more than 30 mutations in the spike protein relative to BA.2, with many at key antigenic sites (figure B), the emergence of BA.2.86 is reminiscent of the initial emergence of omicron.2This raises immediate questions about whether it is sensitive to any previously approved clinical monoclonal antibodies with activity against BA.2, and the degree to which it is able to escape antibody responses in the current setting in which individual exposure histories are a complex combination of multiple immunisations and multiple previous SARS-CoV-2 infections.