SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Commercial Immunoglobulin Products Show Markedly Reduced Cross-reactivities Against Omicron Variants

J Clin Immunol. 2023 Apr 14;1-8. doi: 10.1007/s10875-023-01486-8. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Patients with antibody deficiencies often receive maintenance treatment with donor plasma-derived immunoglobulin (Ig) preparations to decrease the incidence and severity of infections. We have previously shown that IgG antibodies to the original SARS-CoV-2 strain were not consistently present in off-the-shelf Ig batches produced up to approximately 18 months after the first identified case of COVID-19 in the USA and that Ig batches with anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG primarily contained vaccine-induced spike specific antibodies. This study aimed to investigate the degree of cross-reactivity between vaccine-induced anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies against Wuhan strain and subsequent viral variants.

Methods: Samples were collected from 74 Ig batches supplied by three different commercial manufacturers. All batches were used at the Immunodeficiency Unit at the Karolinska University Hospital from the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic until September 2022. Antibody quantity and potential to neutralize virus entry into host cells were assessed against the original SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain and the following nine variants: Alpha, Beta, Delta, IHU, and the Omicron BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.1 with spike mutation L452R, BA.2, and BA.3.

Results: Ig batches produced approximately 18 months after the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (from around July 2021) and later consistently contained high quantities of antibodies that bind the Wuhan strain. The Ig batches had overall low reactivity to the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid, which implies that plasma donor spike IgG essentially is the result of vaccination. We assessed the degree of cross-reactivity towards each virus variant by plotting the variant/Wuhan strain ratio, which was consistent regardless of production date, suggesting cross-reactivity with vaccine-induced antibodies rather than virus exposure in the plasma donor population. Viral variants that emerged later during the pandemic systematically had a lower reactivity ratio, except for the Delta and IHU variants. The Ig batches displayed markedly low neutralizing potential towards the Beta variant and all tested Omicron variants.

Conclusion: Commercial Ig batches currently contain large quantities of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-induced antibodies. Cross-reactivity with variant strains is evident but varies, with markedly low neutralizing potential observed against Omicron variants.

Keywords: Immunoglobulin replacement therapy; Omicron; Passive immunity; Primary immunodeficiency; SARS-CoV-2; X-linked agammaglobulinemia.