Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 escape mutations during Bamlanivimab therapy in a phase II randomized clinical trial

Nat Microbiol. 2022 Nov;7(11):1906-1917. doi: 10.1038/s41564-022-01254-1. Epub 2022 Oct 26.


SARS-CoV-2 mutations that cause resistance to monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy have been reported. However, it remains unclear whether in vivo emergence of SARS-CoV-2 resistance mutations alters viral replication dynamics or therapeutic efficacy in the immune-competent population. As part of the ACTIV-2/A5401 randomized clinical trial (NCT04518410), non-hospitalized participants with symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection were given bamlanivimab (700 mg or 7,000 mg) or placebo treatment. Here¸ we report that treatment-emergent resistance mutations [detected through targeted Spike (S) gene next-generation sequencing] were significantly more likely to be detected after bamlanivimab 700 mg treatment compared with the placebo group (7% of 111 vs 0% of 112 participants, P = 0.003). No treatment-emergent resistance mutations among the 48 participants who received 7,000 mg bamlanivimab were recorded. Participants in which emerging mAb resistant virus mutations were identified showed significantly higher pretreatment nasopharyngeal and anterior nasal viral loads. Daily respiratory tract viral sampling through study day 14 showed the dynamic nature of in vivo SARS-CoV-2 infection and indicated a rapid and sustained viral rebound after the emergence of resistance mutations. Participants with emerging bamlanivimab resistance often accumulated additional polymorphisms found in current variants of concern/interest that are associated with immune escape. These results highlight the potential for rapid emergence of resistance during mAb monotherapy treatment that results in prolonged high-level respiratory tract viral loads. Assessment of viral resistance should be prioritized during the development and clinical implementation of antiviral treatments for COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • SARS-CoV-2* / genetics


  • bamlanivimab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04518410