AstraZeneca says COVID-19 drug helps cut risk of severe disease, death
AstraZeneca announced on Monday that its experimental COVID-19 treatment has been found to be effective in late-stage trials at preventing severe illness or death.
When compared to a placebo, AstraZeneca’s antibody treatment, called AZD7442, reduced the risk of developing severe COVID-19 or death by 67 percent, the company said in a press release.
“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,” said AstraZeneca’s executive vice president, Mene Pangalos.
AstraZeneca said AZD7442 had been shown to prevent COVID-19 viruses from binding to host cells and was able to neutralize COVID-19 variants including the delta and mu strains.
The antibodies used to develop the treatment were discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and licensed by AstraZeneca in June 2020. It is being developed with the support of the U.S. government, including funds from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Last week, AstraZeneca requested emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its preventive COVID-19 treatment.
In its application to the FDA, AstraZeneca cited data from a trial showing that AZD7442 was 77 percent effective at stopping symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
According to the drugmaker, which is headquartered in the U.K., discussions for setting up a supply agreement with the U.S. are “ongoing.”
Its COVID-19 vaccine has not been approved for use in the U.S., though it has been widely administered in other parts of the world, particularly Europe.
Fellow pharmaceutical company Merck announced on Monday that it had requested emergency use authorization from the FDA for its antiviral COVID-19 pill. Health experts have heralded this treatment as a potential game-changer in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, experts like chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci have said it is a “false narrative” to say vaccines will not be needed if the Merck pill is approved.