New treatment both prevents and fights Covid, study shows

By Neil Shaw

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.

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.

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