TOPLINE AstraZeneca on Tuesday announced its monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19 did not meet the primary goal of preventing symptoms in people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, denting hopes of a new therapeutic treatment for Covid-19 for unvaccinated people.
The antibody therapy, AZD7442, reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by only 33% among all exposed patients—including those who tested negative after exposure—compared to a placebo, which was deemed to be statistically insignificant, the company announced in a release.
The data was gathered from the company’s Phase III trials which were conducted on unvaccinated adults older than 18 years with confirmed exposure to a person with Covid-19 within the previous eight days.
The antibody therapy, however, was 92% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 compared to the placebo in patients who tested negative after exposure, suggesting that the drug may be effective in preventing symptoms in people who are not already infected.
The drug continues to be tested as possible prophylaxis against Covid-19 in other trials, the company noted.
The trial’s principal investigator, Dr. Myron J. Levin, noted that the drug may be effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in people who are not yet infected, adding: “While Covid-19 vaccination efforts have been successful, there is still a significant need for prevention and treatment options for certain populations, including those unable to be vaccinated or those who may have an inadequate response to vaccination.”
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AstraZeneca’s AZD7442 was developed with support from the U.S. government. In March, the company announced that it had inked a deal with the government to supply up to half a million doses of AZD7442 for $205 million—subject to the drug receiving emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company said it is continuing to discuss its next steps with the U.S. government.
While several effective vaccines have been developed to protect against Covid-19, effective drugs against the disease remain sparse. Similar monoclonal antibody treatments developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly have been authorized for use in the U.S., but supplies of the drugs remain limited. The development of therapeutics that prevent symptomatic Covid-19 is critical to ending the pandemic as vaccines are yet to be accessible to large swathes of the world’s population.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff