Antibody-based interventions against SARS-CoV-2 could limit morbidity, mortality, and possibly transmission. An anticipated correlate of such countermeasures is the level of neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which engages with host ACE2 receptor for entry. Using an infectious molecular clone of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing eGFP as a marker of infection, we replaced the glycoprotein gene (G) with the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (VSV-eGFP-SARS-CoV-2) and developed a high-throughput-imaging-based neutralization assay at biosafety level 2. We also developed a focus-reduction neutralization test with a clinical isolate of SARS-CoV-2 at biosafety level 3. Comparing the neutralizing activities of various antibodies and ACE2-Fc soluble decoy protein in both assays revealed a high degree of concordance. These assays will help define correlates of protection for antibody-based countermeasures and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, replication-competent VSV-eGFP-SARS-CoV-2 provides a tool for testing inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 mediated entry under reduced biosafety containment.
Keywords: ACE2; COVID19; SARS-CoV-2; VSV; antibody; coronavirus; neutralizing; serum; surrogate assay.
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