A new antibody drug being trialled on the NHS could prove extremely useful in controlling Covid-19 infections. REGEN-COV is found to have provided 100% protection against the development of symptomatic Covid and around 50% protection against asymptomatic Covid.
The drug, developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, was found to cut overall infection rates by around 50% in research trials. It is the same drug used to treat the former US President, Donald Trump, during his battle with the virus last year. Trump praised the drug as a 'cure' at the time.
Data released by Regeneron was based on trials carried out in the United States on around 400 people. However, it has also been revealed more than 2,000 patients have taken part in trials of the drug in hospitals around the UK over recent months.
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Promising results reported
Officials involved with developing and testing the two-antibody cocktail have reported positive and promising results so far. In trials, REGEN-COV was 100% effective in protecting against symptomatic infection among those exposed to Covid from a household member. In addition, it halved asymptomatic infections.
Moreover, one expert last year provided reassuring confirmation that there were no safety issues to worry about. He said that the artificial antibodies used in the drug were already used to treat various serious health problems.
Professor Peter Horby from Oxford University said, 'The class of drugs, these artificial antibodies, have been around for quite a while now, and they've been extensively used in inflammatory conditions and cancers, and they're pretty safe and well understood, and so the technology is something that I think we have confidence in.”
Direct delivery of antibodies
While Covid vaccines are already being rolled out, with the majority of over 80s already receiving their first dose, this drug works in a slightly different way.
Traditional vaccines are designed to trigger the immune system into developing antibodies for protection. However, this experimental one delivers artificial antibodies directly to the patient rather than relying on the immune system to trigger its own. This means that the drug is used as a passive vaccine.
One senior official from Regeneron said there is evidence the drug helps reduce transmission of the virus in addition to reducing ‘viral and disease burden in those who still get infected’.