Story at a glance
- AstraZeneca announced positive results from clinical trials with its antibody drug, AZD7442.
- The drug is taken as a single shot and reduces severe illness and death from COVID-19 by 77 percent.
- The company will likely soon file for regulatory approval.
Optimistic news emerged from AstraZeneca on Friday, with new clinical data suggesting its COVID-19 antibody drug led to a significant reduction in severe symptomatic COVID-19 infections among recipients.
Observed in phase 3 clinical trials, results indicate a 77 percent reduction in the risk of developing a symptomatic COVID-19 infection as opposed to the group who received a placebo.
This study looked at the immunity cultivated with a dose of AstraZeneca’s AZD7442, also called PROVENT, which is a combination of two antibodies that works to cultivate immunity against COVID-19.
Among the randomized trials, no patients who received the antibody cocktail developed a severe COVID-19 infection that resulted in hospitalization. In the alternate group that received a placebo, there were three recorded cases of severe COVID-19, two of which resulted in death.
“The PROVENT data show that one dose of AZD7442, delivered in a convenient intramuscular form, can quickly and effectively prevent symptomatic COVID-19,” said Myron Levin, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado, who helped conduct the trials. “With these exciting results, AZD7442 could be an important tool in our arsenal to help people who may need more than a vaccine to return to their normal lives.”
The medicine is not technically a vaccine, but is still designed to elicit an immune response against COVID-19 and provide sustained protection against the virus. The two Long-Acting Antibodies — denoted as LAABs — are tixagevimab and cilgavimab, which are both derived from COVID-19 patient’s convalescent plasma.
The LAABs were derived by Vanderbilt researchers and sold to AstraZeneca in June 2020.
Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president, said PROVENT is meant to function as a supplement to COVID-19 vaccines for those who may not be “adequately protected.”
“We are very encouraged by these efficacy and safety data in high-risk people, showing our long-acting antibody combination has the potential to protect from symptomatic and severe disease, alongside vaccines,” she said in the press release.
More than 75 percent of the cohort participants had a form of comorbidity that stood to complicate a potential COVID-19 infection. Study participants were given a 300 milligram dose in a single intramuscular shot.
Full results of the PROVENT data will be submitted for peer review.
Several studies had found AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to wane in efficacy against the delta variant, along with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Since then, the Biden’s administration has formally initiated a new rollout of booster shots to help cultivate long-standing immunity in a bid to emerge from the pandemic.