US and AstraZeneca reach deal for Trump-touted COVID-19 antibody treatment

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(Reuters) – The U.S. government has awarded AstraZeneca Plc $ 486 million to develop and secure supplies of up to 100,000 doses of COVID-19 antibody therapy, a similar class of drug used in the treatment of President Donald Trump.

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labeled with the vaccine is seen in front of the AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken September 9, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / File Photo

The deal, as part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, aims to develop a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies that can prevent COVID-19, particularly in high-risk populations like those over 80, the US Department of Health and Human Services said.

The treatment came into the limelight after Trump was treated with the antibody drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals last week. The president also posted a video on Twitter touting its benefits.

In an appeal earlier Friday, a senior US health official said the government expected to provide more than one million free doses of antibody treatments to COVID-19 patients, similar to what has been administered to Trump.

Regeneron and Eli Lilly have both applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorizations for their antibody treatments.

AstraZeneca has said it plans to deliver up to 100,000 doses from the end of 2020 and that the US government may acquire up to a million additional doses in 2021 as part of a separate agreement.

Regeneron signed a $ 450 million deal in July to sell Operation Warp Speed ​​sufficient doses of its antibody treatment, REGN-COV2, to treat approximately 300,000 people.

Eli Lilly said on Friday that he had not signed an agreement with Operation Warp Speed.

AstraZeneca plans to evaluate the treatment, AZD7442, which is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, in two studies.

One trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the experimental treatment in preventing infection for up to 12 months in approximately 5,000 participants, while the second will evaluate preventive and post-exposure preventive treatment in approximately 1,100 participants.

Report by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Edited by Anil D’Silva

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