AstraZeneca antibody cocktail more than 80 percent effective in preventing COVID-19: research

AstraZeneca found its antibody cocktail to be more than 80 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a company analysis released on Thursday, a strong result for a treatment that could help immunocompromised people avert severe illness from COVID-19.

The pharmaceutical company said its study showed its long-acting antibody combination called AZD7442 reduced the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 by 83 percent over six months, compared to those who received the placebo. The data has not yet been peer-reviewed but will be submitted for publication. 

The trial enrolled almost 5,200 people, including more than 75 percent of participants who had co-morbidities that put them at risk of developing severe COVID-19, including immunocompromised people. Participants were not vaccinated, and researchers will continue to study them for 15 months.

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Researchers provided the one-time 300mg dose in two separate, sequential shots. 

There were no cases of severe disease or death among those who received AZD7442, compared with five cases of severe disease and two fatalities throughout the assessment period. 

Since about 2 percent of the world’s population is estimated to not have an adequate immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine, the preventative treatment would be designed to help these at-risk people prevent serious illness from the virus. 

In a separate analysis of another trial, one 600mg dose of AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination was found to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 and death by 88 percent among patients who were treated within three days of developing symptoms. 

That trial involved 903 participants, of which 90 percent were considered at high risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19.

In both trials, the antibody cocktail was “well-tolerated,” and no new safety issues emerged. 

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Mene Pangalos, the executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, said the research adds “to the growing body of evidence supporting AZD7442’s potential to make a significant difference in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.”

“We are progressing regulatory filings around the world and look forward to providing an important new option against SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible,” Pangalos said in a release.

AstraZeneca previously submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant an emergency use authorization for AZD7442 last month. The company’s request cited earlier data that the preventative treatment provided 77 percent protection against symptomatic COVID-19.

The company released data later in October showing AZD7442 cut down the risk of severe illness and death by 67 percent.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has not been authorized to be administered in the U.S., although the company agreed to supply 700,000 doses once an emergency use authorization is granted.

The data on the preventative antibody cocktail comes as more companies are pursuing preventative and diagnostic treatments for COVID-19 patients. Both Pfizer and Merck have asked the FDA to authorize oral COVID-19 treatments.