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SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/5 have surged dramatically to become dominant in the United States and South Africa, respectively1,2. These novel subvariants carrying additional mutations in their spike proteins raise concerns that they may further evade neutralizing antibodies, thereby further compromising the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutic monoclonals. We now report findings from a systematic antigenic analysis of these surging Omicron subvariants. BA.2.12.1 is only modestly (1.8-fold) more resistant to sera from vaccinated and boosted individuals than BA.2. However, BA.4/5 is substantially (4.2-fold) more resistant and thus more likely to lead to vaccine breakthrough infections. Mutation at spike residue L452 found in both BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/5 facilitates escape from some antibodies directed to the so-called class 2 and 3 regions of the receptor-binding domain3. The F486V mutation found in BA.4/5 facilitates escape from certain class 1 and 2 antibodies but compromises the spike affinity for the viral receptor. The R493Q reversion mutation, however, restores receptor affinity and consequently the fitness of BA.4/5. Among therapeutic antibodies authorized for clinical use, only bebtelovimab retains full potency against both BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/5. The Omicron lineage of SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, successively yielding subvariants that are not only more transmissible but also more evasive to antibodies.



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