Covid: New antibody drug ‘reduces hospital admission and deaths by 85%’

Drug blocks Covid-19 from healthy cells and clears infected cells by mimicking human antibodies.

Ella Glover
Thursday 11 March 2021 10:22
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<p>A monoclonal <a href="/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-antibodies-uk-vaccine-b1802895.html">antibody</a> drug reduces <a href="/news/uk/politics/covid-vaccine-single-dose-protection-matt-hancock-b1809620.html">hospital admission</a> or death from <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/coronavirus">Covid-19</a> by 85 per cent, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced</p>

A monoclonal antibody drug reduces hospital admission or death from Covid-19 by 85 per cent, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced

A drug containing a lab-produced ‘antibody’ reduces hospital admission or death from Covid-19 by 85 per cent, its maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced.

VIR-7813, created by GSK and Vir Biotechnology, is a new treatment for those with mild to moderate illness. However, a trial using the drug on very sick patients was halted last week due to a lack of benefit.

It contains monoclonal antibodies — laboratory-produced molecules that mimic human antibodies.

Due to its success, the global phase 3 clinical trial was stopped early with plans to immediately seek an emergency use authorisation in the United States and approval in other countries, including potentially the UK.

Initial analysis of the trials was based on data from 583 patients at risk of hospital admission. It found that hospital admissions or death were reduced by 85 per cent.

The drug works by blocking the virus from healthy cells and clearing infected cells, and is designed to be given as a single intravenous (IV) infusion.

VIR-7831 has also been found to be effective against the most common current Covid-19 variants, including the Kent, South African and Brazilian variants, in a separate study.

Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer at GSK, said: "We are pleased that this unique monoclonal antibody was able to bring such a profound benefit to patients.

"We look forward to the possibility of making VIR-7831 available to patients as soon as possible and to further exploring its potential in other settings."

Last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the number of people in the UK with Covid-19 antibodies had increased.

Esther Sutherland, principal statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “In England, those aged 80 and over currently have the highest percentage of antibody positivity, most likely due to the high vaccination rate in this group.”

Twenty-two million people in the UK have now received at least their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Additional reporting from Press Association

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