Vaccine research

Antibody treatment reduces symptomatic Covid-19 risk by 77%

The University College London Hospitals NHS FT (UCLH) trialled an antibody treatment, which proved to cut the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77%.

The antibody treatment known as AZD7442 was developed by AstraZeneca. In those treated with AZD7442 in the multi-country PROVENT trial, none experienced severe Covid-19, and there weren’t any Covid-19-related deaths. In the arm that received the placebo treatment, three cases of severe Covid-19 were found, which included two deaths.

The development of the treatment aimed to provide a vaccine alternative to those who may not respond to vaccination, such as someone with a compromised immune system, or at increased risk of infection due to their age and existing conditions.

The trial at UCLH was led by UCLH’s Dr Nicky Longley, an infectious diseases consultant, who said: “I’m very proud to have been part of this study across sites and across countries and am encouraged that we are now a step closer to being able to offer protection to those who may not be able to receive a vaccine. It is vital we can offer an alternative to vaccination which is just as protective.”

For the treatment in the trial, the - AZD7442 - monoclonal antibodies were produced in a laboratory and designed to be injected directly into the body. They work differently to vaccines, which ‘train’ the immune system itself to produce antibodies instead.

It forms part of two trials at the trust looking at use of the antibody treatment. The other trial alongside this, is called STORM CHASER, and was led by UCLH’s virologist Dr Catherine Houlihan. This trial looked at the use of the treatment in people who were recently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The results in the STORM CHASER trial showed that for participants who didn’t have the virus (based on a PCR test) when given the treatment, there chance of developing symptomatic Covid-19 significantly reduced.

Both trials took place at the Vaccine Research Centre at UCLH, which opened in December 2020 to help accelerate the development of new Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.

AstraZeneca now plan to apply to health authorities for authorisation of the treatment for potential emergency use.

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