TOPLINE AstraZeneca’s injectable antibody therapy is effective at preventing severe illness or death in people with mild or moderate Covid-19 infections, the British pharmaceutical company announced Monday, buoying confidence as scientists race to develop tools to treat coronavirus patients outside of hospital settings.
AstraZeneca said its antibody therapy, AZD7442, halved the risk of developing severe Covid-19 or death compared to inactive placebo in some 822 patients taking part in the late-stage clinical trial.
The patients—most of whom (90%) were at high risk of severe illness and had other diseases—received the antibodies within a week of showing symptoms.
A separate analysis found the therapy to cut the risk of death or severe illness by two-thirds (67%) if given within five days of showing symptoms, AstraZeneca said.
AstraZeneca said it plans to discuss the data, which it did not disclose, with health authorities and plans to submit the trial’s full findings for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The company sought emergency approval for the therapy in early October after a study found it to be effective at preventing severe disease in high-risk individuals before exposure to the virus.
The vast majority of Covid-19 treatments are geared towards patients already hospitalized with the disease and most of these treats the body’s response to the virus. There are few treatments available for non-hospitalized patients to stop the disease from progressing and the monoclonal antibody treatments that are expensive, typically administered intravenously and in such short supply that they are being rationed for those in the hospital who are likely to need them most. Effective treatment for non-hospitalized patients would be a game-changer.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
AstraZeneca’s injectable antibody therapy is not the only pre-hospital treatment for Covid-19 in the pipeline. Pharma giant Merck, alongside Miami-based Ridgeback Therapeutics, asked U.S. regulators for emergency authorization for an antiviral pill to treat Covid-19 in early October. The pill, the first treatment of its kind, was found to halve the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk groups in a late-stage clinical trial, the company announced. It is one of several antiviral pills in late-stage development. Compared to antibody treatments, they are relatively cheap and easy to produce and distribute at scale.
An earlier trial testing whether the AstraZeneca antibody cocktail could prevent symptoms in people exposed to Covid-19 failed in June.
By Robert Hart, Forbes Staff