The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has unprecedented implications for public health, social life, and the world economy. Because approved drugs and vaccines are limited or not available, new options for COVID-19 treatment and prevention are in high demand. To identify SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies, we analyzed the antibody response of 12 COVID-19 patients from 8 to 69 days after diagnosis. By screening 4,313 SARS-CoV-2-reactive B cells, we isolated 255 antibodies from different time points as early as 8 days after diagnosis. Of these, 28 potently neutralized authentic SARS-CoV-2 with IC 100 as low as 0.04 μg/mL, showing a broad spectrum of variable (V) genes and low levels of somatic mutations. Interestingly, potential precursor sequences were identified in naive B cell repertoires from 48 healthy individuals who were sampled before the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies are readily generated from a diverse pool of precursors, fostering hope for rapid induction of a protective immune response upon vaccination.
Isolation of highly potent SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies
Longitudinal sampling reveals early class-switched neutralizing response
SARS-CoV-2 S-protein-reactive antibodies show little somatic mutation over time
Potential antibody precursor sequences identified in SARS-CoV-2-naive individuals
In a longitudinal analysis of SARS-CoV-2-infected people, Kreer et al. find highly potent neutralizing antibodies that use a broad spectrum of variable (V) genes and show low levels of somatic mutations. They also identify potential precursor sequences of these SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies from virus-naive individuals, sampled before the COVID-19 pandemic. This could indicate that neutralizing antibodies can be readily generated from existing germline antibody sequences found in the general population.