An investigational coronavirus drug that is currently being tested on the NHS has been shown to be 100% effective in protecting against symptomatic cases of the virus.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday that its REGEN-COV dual antibody cocktail resulted in a 100% reduction in symptomatic infections in those who received the drug after being exposed to a household member with Covid-19.
The pioneering cocktail, which was called a ‘cure’ by former US President Donald Trump after receiving the drug amid his coronavirus battle last year, has also reduced overall infection rates – including asymptomatic – about 50%.
The results, which were based on an early analysis of 400 participants in the United States whose family member carried the virus, come months after it was revealed that the drug was also being tested on “at least 2,000” British patients in 174 hospitals.
The cocktail of two REGEN-COV antibodies, currently being tested in the UK, prevented 100% of people who received the drug after being exposed to the coronavirus from developing symptomatic Covid-19.
In September, Professor Peter Horby of the University of Oxford – who is involved in a UK trial of the drug – revealed that there had been “no worrying safety signals”.
He said he expected the drug to be tested on “at least 2,000” patients in 174 hospitals.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “The class of drugs, these artificial antibodies, have been around for quite some time now, and they’ve been used extensively in inflammatory conditions and cancers, and they’re pretty safe and understood well, and therefore technology is something that I think we trust.
“This particular drug has probably been given, I think now, to four or five hundred patients, mild to severe patients in different trials, and so far there have been no worrisome safety signals.
“In the lab, in cell cultures, it has a very strong effect against the virus, and there have been studies on artificial animals where it has benefits as well.
“So, probably among the drugs available, this is one of the most promising. ‘
The investigational drug is made up of two monoclonal antibodies and works by binding to a protein on the surface of the virus.
This helps prevent infections from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, from attaching to cells and allows the immune system to respond.
The current trial tested REGEN-COV for use as a passive vaccine, which involves the direct delivery of anti-virus antibodies into the body, unlike traditional vaccines in which the receptor’s immune system is activated to develop. its own antibodies.
“These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggest that it may both reduce the transmission of the virus and reduce the viral load and disease burden in those who are still infected,” said George Yancopoulos, president and scientific director from Regeneron.
Regeneron said it will discuss interim results with U.S. health regulators to potentially expand the current emergency use authorization for the antibody cocktail.
The results come a week after US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly said its similar drug prevented 80% of nursing home residents from contracting Covid-19.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday that its results were based on a survey of 400 participants who had a household member with the virus. Pictured: The Regeneron Pharmaceuticals building in Westchester, Tarrytown, New York
Regeneron’s antibody cocktail (shown in the manufacturing process) is made up of two monoclonal antibodies (REGN10933 and REGN10987) and works by binding to a protein on the surface of the virus
The drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly have already received emergency approval from the FDA for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19, but they have been woefully underused.
The drugs quickly received emergency FDA approval in November after former President Trump was treated for Covid-19 with Regeneron’s therapy and touted it as a “cure” – promising it would be made available to all Americans, free of charge.
The federal government has purchased hundreds of thousands of doses and shipped them to hospitals across the country.
Just before President Biden’s inauguration, the Trump administration set aside an additional $ 2.6 billion to purchase more drugs.
But the drugs have been chronically underused.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Jan.6 that about 75% of doses were not being used.
During the trial, conducted jointly by Regeneron and the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, one death and hospitalization related to Covid-19 were reported among those who received a placebo, but there is no no such incident in the treatment group, the company said.
People who became infected after receiving the cocktail of antibodies had a lower viral load and their infections lasted for a week. There were only ten infections among the 186 people who received the IV antibody cocktail.
In comparison, about 40% of infections in the placebo group lasted for three or four weeks.
People who received the drug Regeneron also had a viral load about 100 times lower than those who received the placebo.
The results come after it was revealed Britain missed its vaccination target for a second day in a row.
Figures show 279,757 received a first dose, more than 100,000 under the 400,000 the government needs to get immunized each day to meet its goal of immunizing 15 million most vulnerable people by mid-February .
Speaking at today’s conference, the Prime Minister said: “I offer my deepest condolences to all who have lost a loved one: fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters; sons and daughters and the many grandparents who were kidnapped, ”he said.
“And, to all who mourn, we make this pledge: that when we pass through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember all we have lost and to honor the selfless heroism of all. who are on the front line. gave their lives to save others.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister offered his “deepest condolences” to “all those who have lost a loved one” amid the pandemic
“We will be remembered for the courage of countless workers – not just our amazing NHS and social workers, but also shop workers, transport workers, pharmacists, teachers, police, emergency services. the armed forces and many others – which have kept our country alive during our greatest crisis since World War II.
“We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteerism and the daily sacrifice of millions of people who have put their lives on hold time and time again as we battle each new wave of the virus, giving our brilliant scientists time. to come to our aid. .
“At this time of commemoration, we will celebrate the genius and perseverance of those who discovered vaccines and the immense national effort – never seen before in our history – that is now underway to distribute them, one that has now seen us immunize more than 6.8 million people across the UK.