- New treatment reduced risk of severe COVID infection or death by 67 percent
- The injection may provide protection against the virus for between 6 and 12 months.
- It could be a vaccine option for people who can’t get the jab, and for vulnerable people.
AstraZeneca’s COVID antibody injection may also help treat sick patients, according to the latest test results.
The cocktail is already known to reduce the risk of infected people showing any symptoms.
The drug giant has already asked US regulators for emergency approval to use the drug as a prophylactic.
Evidence now shows that the drug – called AZD7442 – can also fight infection in patients battling the disease at home.
Patients with a mild bout of covid were up to 67 percent less likely to be hospitalized or died compared to volunteers given a placebo.
A new AstraZeneca treatment that involves injecting modified antibodies into a patient’s arm may help prevent and treat COVID-19, according to the results of recent medical trials. It is hoped that the treatment may help people who cannot receive a normal COVID vaccine or have health conditions that put them at particularly risk of severe COVID infection (stock image)
How does AZD7442 treatment work?
AZD7442 is composed of two long acting antibodies, tixagevimab and cilgavimab.
These antibodies have been developed from B-cells donated by patients who have recovered from a COVID infection.
B-cells are a type of white blood cell that form part of the body’s immune system and produce antibodies.
Antibodies are a type of protein found in the blood that bind to foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses and prevent them from harming healthy cells.
However, after an infection has passed, the antibody levels in the body eventually decrease.
So in AZD7442, the scientists modified two antibodies to last longer than the conventional ones.
This is what gives the treatment its long-lasting protection of up to 12 months, according to AstraZeneca.
Antibodies are an important part of the immune system, and allow the body to recognize and neutralize foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
AZD7442 contains two types of lab-made antibodies, and similar to some vaccines, is given via injection into the arm to patients.
They have been modified by AstraZeneca to last longer than natural antibodies.
The new evidence came from a trial that included 903 patients, 90 percent of whom were classified as high risk due to underlying conditions.
Conditions included cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
The results showed that a single 600mg dose of AZD7442 reduced the risk of death and serious illness by 50 percent within a week of the onset of symptoms.
It was even more effective for patients treated within five days of falling ill, with a 67 percent reduction in the risk of serious illness or death.
AZD7442 could be a new way to help people who cannot have a COVID vaccine for medical reasons, or whose health conditions put them at a particular risk from the virus.
Professor Hugh Montgomery, an intensive care specialist at University College London and the trial’s lead researcher, said developing new ways to fight COVID was key to helping end the pandemic.
“These positive results suggest that a convenient intramuscular dose of AZD7442 may play an important role in helping combat this devastating epidemic,” he said.
Mayne Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s vice president of biopharmaceutical research and development, said it could help people with the virus and prevent Covid in the first place.
“An early intervention with our antibodies can lead to a significant reduction in the progression of serious disease, with continued protection for more than six months,” he said.
An earlier study published in August showed that among those who were treated, there were no severe cases of Covid.
Research of more than 5,000 adults found that AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic covid by 77 percent compared to a placebo.
More than 75 percent of the people in that trial had health problems that put them at increased risk of serious illness or reduced their immune response to vaccination.
AstraZeneca has filed a request for emergency use authorization with the US Food and Drug Administration for AZD7442 as a preventive treatment for covid.
The company did not confirm whether it was seeking similar approval to use AZD7442 in the UK, but did say it is ‘discussing’ the test data with health officials.
It is unknown how much a dose of AZD7442 would cost if the drug is approved for use, but AstraZeneca sacrificed billions in profits by simply selling its COVID vaccine at cost.
That decision was welcomed by the World Health Organization, which called the cheap jab a ‘vaccine for the world’.
AstraZeneca became a household name due to its work with the University of Oxford in developing one of four COVID vaccines approved for use in the UK in 2020.
As of the end of September, approximately 50 million Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs have been administered in the UK, including both the first and second doses of the vaccine.
Since the worldwide pandemic in 2020, several drugs aimed at helping those infected with Kovid have been found to help patients.
One of these is dexamethasone, a steroid found to reduce the risk of death by up to 35 percent in severely infected COVID patients, developed by UK scientists.
The second is Ronaprev, which like AZD7442 has been developed from antibodies from recovered COVID patients.
The drug, made by Regeneron, was found to reduce the risk of death or hospitalization by up to 70 percent in people with serious health conditions.
Ronapreve was approved for use in the UK on 20 August, but despite being available in the US since November, NHS medics have struggled to get supplies of the drug for their patients.