Neutralization breadth of SARS-CoV-2 viral variants following primary series and booster SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in patients with cancer

Cancer Cell. 2022 Jan 10;40(1):103-108.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2021.12.002. Epub 2022 Jan 5.


Patients with cancer are more likely to have impaired immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. We study the breadth of responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants after primary vaccination in 178 patients with a variety of tumor types and after booster doses in a subset. Neutralization of alpha, beta, gamma, and delta SARS-CoV-2 variants is impaired relative to wildtype, regardless of vaccine type. Regardless of viral variant, mRNA1273 is the most immunogenic, followed by BNT162b2, and then Ad26.COV2.S. Neutralization of more variants (breadth) is associated with a greater magnitude of wildtype neutralization, and increases with time since vaccination; advancing age associates with a lower breadth. The concentrations of anti-spike protein antibody are a good surrogate for breadth (positive predictive value of =90% at >1,000 U/mL). Booster SARS-CoV-2 vaccines confer enhanced breadth. These data suggest that achieving a high antibody titer is desirable to achieve broad neutralization; a single booster dose with the current vaccines increases the breadth of responses against variants.

Keywords: Ad26.COV2.S; BNT162b2; SARS-CoV-2; booster dose; breadth; cancer; mRNA1273; neutralization; variants.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / biosynthesis*
  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / immunology
  • Viral Load


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants