New antibody treatment ‘both prevents and treats Covid-19’

A new treatment could prevent serious cases of Covid-19. Credit: PA

An antibody treatment developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has shown its ability to both prevent and treat Covid-19, according to new data.

AstraZeneca submitted a request to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week for emergency use authorisation for AZD7442, which is made up of two antibodies, as a preventative treatment.

In new data released on Monday morning from its Tackle trial, AstraZeneca showed AZD7442 was effective in preventing severe disease in non-hospitalised patients with mild to moderate coronavirus, when compared with a placebo.

Most of the 903 people in the trial were at high risk of progression to severe Covid-19, including those with multiple health conditions.

The study found that a single dose of 600mg of AZD7442 given by injection into muscle managed to reduce the risk of developing severe Covid-19 or death from any cause by 50%, when compared with a placebo, in people who had been symptomatic for seven days or less.

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For those who received the treatment within five days of their symptoms first appearing, AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing severe Covid or death by 67% compared with a placebo.

Hugh Montgomery, professor of intensive care medicine at University College London, and lead researcher on the trial, said: “With continued cases of serious Covid-19 infections across the globe, there is a significant need for new therapies like AZD7442 that can be used to protect vulnerable populations from getting Covid-19 and can also help prevent progression to severe disease.

“These positive results show that a convenient intramuscular dose of AZD7442 could play an important role in helping combat this devastating pandemic.”

Mene Pangalos, executive vice president for biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, said: “These important results for AZD7442, our long-acting antibody combination, add to the growing body of evidence for use of this therapy in both prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

“An early intervention with our antibody can give a significant reduction in progression to severe disease, with continued protection for more than six months.”

The treatment has been billed as suitable for those who cannot have a regular vaccination, who respond poorly to Covid-19 vaccines or whose health conditions put them at particular risk of serious illness,

Full results from the Tackle trial will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

A separate study (Provent) on the treatment published in August showed there were no cases of severe Covid or coronavirus-related deaths in those treated with AZD7442.

The study of more than 5,000 adults found AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77% compared with a placebo.

More than 75% of people in that trial had health issues which put them at increased risk of severe disease or they had a reduced immune response to vaccination.