The Omicron lineage of SARS-CoV-2, first described in November 2021, spread rapidly to become globally dominant and has split into a number of sub-lineages. BA.1 dominated the initial wave but has been replaced by BA.2 in many countries. Recent sequencing from South Africa’s Gauteng region uncovered two new sub-lineages, BA.4 and BA.5 which are taking over locally, driving a new wave. BA.4 and BA.5 contain identical spike sequences and, although closely related to BA.2, contain further mutations in the receptor binding domain of spike. Here, we study the neutralization of BA.4/5 using a range of vaccine and naturally immune serum and panels of monoclonal antibodies. BA.4/5 shows reduced neutralization by serum from triple AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccinated individuals compared to BA.1 and BA.2. Furthermore, using serum from BA.1 vaccine breakthrough infections there are likewise, significant reductions in the neutralization of BA.4/5, raising the possibility of repeat Omicron infections.
Available online 9 June 2022