Global surveillance programs for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are showing the emergence of variants with mutations in the spike protein. Genomic and laboratory surveillance are important to determine if these variants may be more infectious or less susceptible to antiviral treatments and vaccine-induced antibodies. Three of the most predominant SARS-CoV-2 variants in Colombia during the epidemiological peaks of 2021 were isolated: Mu, a variant of interest; Gamma, a variant of concern; B.1.111, which lacks genetic markers associated with greater virulence. Microneutralization assays were performed by incubating 120 mean tissue culture infectious doses (TCID50) of each SARS-CoV-2 isolate with five two-fold serial dilutions of sera from 31 BNT162b2-vaccinated volunteers. The mean neutralization titer (MN50) was calculated by the Reed-Muench method. At the end of August, Mu represented 49% of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in Colombia, followed by 25% of Gamma. In contrast, B.1.111 became almost undetectable. The evaluation of neutralizing antibodies suggests that patients vaccinated with BNT162b2 generate neutralizing antibody titers against the Mu variant at significantly lower concentrations relative to B.1.111 and Gamma. This study shows the importance of continuing surveillance programs of emerging variants, as well as the need to evaluate the neutralizing antibody response induced by other vaccines.
Keywords: COVID-19; Mu (B.1.621) variant; SARS-CoV-2 variants; gamma (P.1) variant; neutralizing antibodies; spike protein.