Antiviral treatment

Thousands to benefit from lifesaving Covid-19 antibody treatment

Thousands of vulnerable NHS patients in hospital due to Covid-19 are expected to benefit from a ground-breaking new antibody treatment.

It will help the patients who have not developed an antibody response against Covid-19.

This includes people who are immunocompromised - for example those with certain cancers or autoimmune diseases, and therefore have difficulty building up an antibody response to the virus, either through being exposed to Covid-19 or from vaccination.

The ground-breaking new treatment known as Ronapreve will be rolled out to vulnerable hospital patients from next week, using a combination of two monoclonal antibodies..

Health Secretary Sajid Javid, said: “We have secured a brand new treatment for our most vulnerable patients in hospitals across the UK and I am thrilled it will be saving lives from as early as next week.

“The UK is leading the world in identifying and rolling out life-saving medicines, particularly for Covid-19, and we will continue our vital work to find the best treatments available to save lives and protect the NHS.”

Covid-19 patients

Ronapreve is the first neutralising antibody medicine specifically designed to treat Covid-19, that has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK.

It will be used to treat patients without antibodies to SARS CoV-2 who are either aged 50 and over or are aged 12 to 49 and are considered immunocompromised.

Antibody testing will first be used to determine whether patients are seronegative, meaning those who do not have an adequate existing antibody response, and will therefore receive the treatment.

The treatment antibodies - casirivimab and imdevimab - will then be administered to patients through a drip and work by binding to the virus’ spike protein, stopping it from being able to infect the body’s cells.

Paul McManus, Covid-19 Lead at Roche Products Ltd, said: “Over the last 18 months, our goal has been to do everything we can to minimise the impact of the pandemic on those affected, and the brilliant people who work tirelessly to treat and care for them.

“This is just another step in our journey to overcome Covid-19, and we will continue to collaborate with partners to identify and investigate multiple options that may help different groups of patients.”

The NHS has also rolled out monoclonal immunomodulatory antibody treatments tocilizumab and sarilumab, following clinical trial results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP trial.

The treatments were found to reduce the relative risk of death by 24%, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.

Earlier this year, the government also brought together a new Antivirals Taskforce to amplify the search for new treatments for patients who are exposed to Covid-19, to stop the infection spreading and speed up recovery time.

Guidance will shortly be going out to clinicians so they can begin prescribing the treatment as soon as possible.

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NHE May/June 22

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