The new antibody therapy from AstraZeneca could be the answer for those people seeking protection from Covid-198 but respond poorly to vaccines as the therapy has shown evidence of reducing the risk of people developing Covid-19 symptoms by 77 per cent in a late-stage trial.
75 per cent of the participants in the trial for the therapy had chronic conditions and included people who had lower immune response to vaccinations, the company said on Friday. The therapy comprised of two types of antibodies discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Regeneron, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline with partner Vir are developing similar therapies made using a drug class called monoclonal antibodies – those that mimic naturally occurring immune system proteins.
But the first company to publish positive Covid-19 prevention data from an antibody trial is AstraZeneca.
However, a separate AstraZeneca statement on Friday tempered the good news on the therapy.
In the statement the company said that lack of efficacy had forced it to call an early end to a trial of a treatment for the rare neurological disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) thet has been developed by the company’s newly acquired Alexion.
Results of the therapy were collected after three months of injecting participants with antibodies and the trial would be followed up for as long as 15 months, so that the company can claim the shot as a year-long shield, said AstraZeneca executive Mene Pangalos.
The strategic value of its existing vaccine Vaxzevria, which it developed in collaboration with Oxford University, could also potentially be enhanced by a new Covid-19 product in AstraZeneca’s medicine cabinet, Pangalos said.
“No other company has delivered two molecules against SARS-CoV2. This definitely helps us in positioning us in terms of COVID,” Pangalos told the media.
SARS-CoV2 is the scientific name for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A number of strategic options were being explored for AstraZeneca’s vaccine operations, said another leading AstraZeneca executive, Ruud Dobber.
During the rollout of Vaxzevria, there were production problems for the Anglo-Swedish drug maker. There has also been a heavy impact on the demand of the shot in Europe because of very rare cases of blood clotting. The United States is yet to give clearance to the vaccine.
A number of high income nations have been prompted to offer a third vaccine shot on top of the usual two-shot regiment for those people who are immunocompromised or others who are at risk of breakthrough infections because of the rising concerns over the new Delta variant and waning vaccine efficacy.
(Adapted form CNBC.com)