New Covid antibody drug reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death in some by 85%

Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:48 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:49 pm
The drug is administered via an IV drip (Photo: Shutterstock)

A clinical trial has found that a new coronavirus antibody drug can cut risk of hospitalisation and death by 85 per cent.

Named VIR-7831 and produced by pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the new drug has proved so successful in the most recent trial that the study has been stopped early.

The drug is a treatment for people with mild to moderate illnesses from coronavirus, and uses laboratory-produced molecules that mimic human antibodies to make patients better. It works both by blocking entry of the virus into healthy cells and also clearing infected cells.

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Effectiveness on seriously ill patients, however, was proven to be minimal, with a trial administering the drug on such patients stopped due to a lack of observable benefit.

GSK and partner Vir Biotechnology are now seeking emergency authorisation for use of the drug in the US as well as seeking approval in other countries including the UK.

Effective against South African, Kent and Brazil Covid variants

The global phase three clinical trials analysed data on 583 patients with coronavirus who were at risk of hospitalisation.

A separate lab study found that the drug is effective against a number of current strains of coronavirus, including the South African, Kent and Brazilian variants. It's administered as a single IV infusion to ill patients.

Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer at GSK, said: “We are pleased that this unique monoclonal antibody was able to bring such a profound benefit to patients.

“We look forward to the possibility of making VIR-7831 available to patients as soon as possible and to further exploring its potential in other settings.”

The drug is the latest in a line of treatments which have been proven to be effective in improving the survival prospects of patients with coronavirus.

One of the first breakthroughs in treating the virus came when researchers discovered that certain steroid treatments such as dexamethasone were highly effective in reducing deaths in patients.