AstraZeneca’s Antibody Cocktail Only 33 Percent Effective at Preventing Covid Symptoms

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Following the mixed success of its vaccine, AstraZeneca Plc (NASDAQ:AZN) faces another blow as its long-acting antibody cocktail AZD7442 failed to prevent symptoms in 33% of people exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a preliminary study.

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More than 1,100 adults volunteered for the trial in both the U.S. and the U.K., and were exposed to the virus in a period of eight days without any vaccination. During the test, 23 volunteers who received the cocktail developed symptoms after exposure to the disease, compared with 17 cases in the placebo group, as informed by Bloomberg.

AstraZeneca Plc’s monoclonal antibody treatment belongs to a group of drugs that mimic the natural antibodies that the body produces to fight infection.

According to Reuters, the U.S. placed a $205 million order of 500,000 doses of the antibody cocktail last March, building on an initial 200,000-dose order in October.

“The US Government’s support is critical in helping accelerate the development of AZD7442,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said back then.

The drug is designed to “treat the disease rather than prevent it like the vaccine,” after several reports on blood clots of the latter drew concerns in several countries that stopped their use.

A Tough Blow for AstraZeneca

At present, the drug is yet to be approved by the FDA at a point where the virus has claimed 600,000 accumulated deaths according to NBC, and Novavax announced a 90% efficacy of its vaccine after a trial comprising 29,960 volunteers in both Mexico and the U.S.

Further, the same regulator approved the emergency use of Sotrovimab by GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE:GSK) and Vir Biotechnology in May, with the pharma giant combo adding that they plan to submit a marketing request to the FDA in the second half of 2021.

GSK and Vir’s authorization in the U.S. was supported by a 583-volunteer study who had started suffering symptoms five days prior. As reported by The New York Times, the study found that those who got the GSK-Vir treatment reduced their risk of hospitalization or death by 85%, compared with those who got a placebo.

Sotrovimab is breaking ground in Europe as the continent’s drug regulator endorsed its use for COVID-19 patients who were at risk of serious illness and did not need supplemental oxygen.

In addition, similar COVID-19 therapies based on monoclonal technology from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly have been licensed for emergency use in the U.S.