AstraZeneca says COVID-19 drug neutralizes omicron variants

AstraZeneca offices
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AstraZeneca said Monday that its antiviral drug was shown to be effective at neutralizing the COVID-19 omicron variant, including the newer BA.2 variant that is causing cases to rise in Europe and Asia.

Data from the Washington University School of Medicine showed that AstraZeneca’s Evusheld was effective at reducing the viral burden and inflammation in the lungs caused by the BA.1, BA.1.1 and the BA.2 variants, the company said. The study was conducted with mice infected with the virus.

Evusheld has already been granted an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a pre-exposure prophylaxis for adults and children as young as 12 who weigh at least 88 pounds.

“The findings demonstrate that Evusheld was effective at protecting against infection in the lungs, a critical disease site for severe COVID-19, across all Omicron subvariants tested,” said Michael Diamond, a Washington University professor of molecular microbiology, pathology and immunology as well as a researcher in the mouse study.

“The findings further support Evusheld as a potential important option to help protect vulnerable patients such as the immunocompromised who could face poor outcomes if they were to become infected with COVID-19,” said John Perez, AstraZeneca vice president.

The Washington University researchers noted that there were a few limitations to the study. Only female mice were used in the study and the omicron strains are believed to be less pathogenic in mice when compared to previous strains.

Further studies with other animals, including humans, will be needed, said the researchers.

In January, Pfizer said in vitro studies had shown that its antiviral Paxlovid was effective against the omicron variant.

Research led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Tokyo, indicated that other antivirals such as Paxlovid, remdesivir and molnupiravir were effective against the BA.2 variant.

“The bottom line is we have antibodies that appear to be more effective against BA. 2 compared with BA.1 or BA.1.1. That’s good news, but we don’t know whether what we found in in the lab translates into clinical settings,” Kawaoka said earlier this month.

Kawaoka’s research team found that AstraZeneca’s Evusheld was the most effective against the BA.2 variant out of the antibody treatments that were tested.

Tags AstraZeneca Variants of SARS-CoV-2

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