The new treatment may offer an advantage due to concerns about new virus variants that might escape certain antibody drugs.
The federal government has suspended shipments of an antibody treatment on the market, a cocktail of two Eli Lilly drugs, to eight states due to the high prevalence of the variants first seen in South Africa and Brazil . Laboratory experiments suggest that these variants may withstand Lilly’s treatment. (The other available antibody treatment, a cocktail of two Regeneron drugs, appears to be neutralize the range of variants, based on laboratory tests.)
The treatment for GSK and Vir is a unique drug, designed to mimic the antibodies generated naturally when the immune system fights the coronavirus, such as those detectable after an infected person heals. His clearance was based on a study of 583 volunteers who had started to experience symptoms within the previous five days. The study found that those who received the GSK-Vir treatment showed an 85% reduction in their risk of hospitalization or death, compared to those who received a placebo.
Even as the number of vaccines increases and infection rates decline in the United States, antibody treatments will likely remain an important tool in preventing poor outcomes in high-risk patients, doctors say. Thousands of people in the United States still test positive and hundreds die every day.
Last week the FDA expanded the criteria doctors can use to determine treatment eligibility, opening the door to more young people with certain medical conditions like hypertension and to members of racial or ethnic groups considered to be at higher risk than others of poor medical results.