The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant escapes neutralizing antibodies elicited by vaccines or infection. However, whether Omicron triggers cross-reactive humoral responses to other variants of concern (VOCs) remains unknown. We use plasma from 20 unvaccinated and seven vaccinated individuals infected by Omicron BA.1 to test binding, Fc effector function and neutralization against VOCs. In unvaccinated individuals, Fc effector function and binding antibodies target Omicron and other VOCs at comparable levels. However, Omicron BA.1-triggered neutralization is not extensively cross-reactive for VOCs (14 to 31-fold titer reduction) and we observe 4-fold decreased titers against Omicron BA.2. In contrast, vaccination followed by breakthrough Omicron infection associates with improved cross-neutralization of VOCs, with titers exceeding 1:2,100. This has important implications for vulnerability of unvaccinated Omicron-infected individuals to reinfection by circulating and emerging VOCs. While Omicron-based immunogens may be adequate boosters, they are unlikely to be superior to existing vaccines for priming in SARS-CoV-2 naïve individuals.
Richardson et al. show that SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infection in unvaccinated individuals triggers potent antibody responses; however, cross-reactivity against variants of concern is poor. In contrast, Omicron BA.1 breakthrough infection in vaccinated individuals elicits high titer cross-reactive antibodies. Omicron-based vaccines are thus unlikely to be superior immunogens in SARS-COV-2 naïve individuals.