A therapy under rolling review after Covid vaccine… This Thursday November 18, 2021, AstraZeneca laboratory announced they have met promising results as part of their advanced clinical trial for a preventive antibody-based therapy to avoid severe coronavirus. This therapy is said to reduce by 67% the risk of developing severe disease.
Called AZD7442, it recently completed the third clinical trial phase and consisted in two groups, one given the preventive drug, the other a placebo. In all, 5,200 people in the world took part in the trial including French, Northern-Americans, Belgians, Spanish, and British people. A marketing issuance application has been filed at the same time in the U.S., to the FDA, for issuance by the end of the year. The 3rd phase involved 903 people. "With continued cases of serious COVID-19 infections across the globe, there is a significant need for new therapies like AZD7442 that can be used to protect vulnerable populations from getting COVID-19", Hugh Montgomery, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at University College London and one of the main executives of the clinical trial said.
After six months of study, the therapy "showed 83% reduced risk" of symptomatic disease, AstraZeneca explains. They continue: "no severe disease or death" related to the virus has been reported. Note results of the trials must be peer-reviewed before an official release in a scientific magazine. Anyway, an emergency marketing authorization has been issued to the FDA, this past August.
The therapy is to complete the Covid arsenal, alongside the vaccine: “Both aim at the same goal: preventing severe disease”, Penny Ward, Visiting Professor in Pharmaceutical Medicine at King’s College in London tells our peers from France 24. A therapy different from the monoclonal antibodies currently used by hospitals against coronavirus, those helping to cure and not prevent: “This is the main difference with vaccines looking to stimulate the immune system so it creates antibodies by itself, while these therapies enable to directly inject antibodies said effective in the lab”, Ward goes on.
But the therapy cannot replace the vaccine that should go first, the scientist thinks: “Vaccination must be preferred to monoclonal antibody-based therapy when possible”, she says. And for good reason: the vaccine, with two shots, enables to create antibodies (for the first one), and wake the “memory”-called antibodies (lymphocyte T for the second one). The therapy developed by AstraZeneca does not enable to develop memory antibodies fighting against the infection in the long run.
But, this is still good news since if the therapy is approved and allowed by regulators, it could protect people better if the vaccine does not bring the expected immune response like in “people suffering from certain comorbidities affecting their immune systems, such as in patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, or taking medication jeopardizing their immune systems”, Ward explains. This is also a way to convince people against the vaccine, as some of them would rather wait for a therapy – event preventive – working against Covid.
And it is a win-win situation for everyone.