AstraZeneca’s antibody therapy has been found to prevent Covid in a late-stage study, paving the way for it to be potentially used as an alternative to jabs for those with weakened immunity
An alternative to Covid vaccines for people with weakened immune systems could soon be available.
AstraZeneca said today its antibody therapy has met the main goal of preventing the virus in a late-stage study, putting the drug-maker on track to potentially make it available.
The company said the cocktail of two types of antibodies, initially discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77 percent.
More than 75 percent of the participants had chronic conditions, including some linked to a diminished immune response to vaccination, it said.
The results mark a change of fortune for AstraZeneca.
It reported in June that a smaller late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that the antibody cocktail, known for now as AZD7442, protected people who had contact with an infected person from the disease.
The Anglo-Swedish drug-maker, which has faced challenges with the rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine, is also working on repurposing existing drugs to fight the virus.
It comes weeks after an initial late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that the antibody therapy could provide protection.
The Phase III study, completed in June, included 1,121 participants in the United Kingdom and the United States.
The vast majority, though not all, were free of the virus at the start of the trial.
Speaking at the time, Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos said: “While this trial did not meet the primary endpoint against symptomatic illness, we are encouraged by the protection seen in the PCR negative participants following treatment with AZD7442.”
Yesterday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted people will have access to booster injections from next month.
Mr Javid could not say exactly when the third doses would be rolled out but is “confident” it will start “sometime” in September.
Experts are awaiting more trial results but the NHS has already planned to be ready for September 6.
Today the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation discussed who should get a third jab but an announcement is still likely to be weeks away.
Vaccinations are estimated to have saved between 91,700 and 98,700 deaths, says Public Health England.