The UAE has approved the emergency use of a new drug that can help to save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus.
Sotrovimab, produced by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, can reduce Covid-19 deaths and hospital admissions by up to 85 per cent.
The UAE is the first country in the world to both license and enable immediate patient use of the drug. It comes after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave an emergency use authorisation to the antibody treatment, said Wam news agency.
Sotrovimab will be available to Covid-19 patients in the US in the coming weeks.
Lab tests showed the medicine was effective against variants of the coronavirus.
"The new medicine will greatly contribute to speeding up the recovery of patients, reducing Covid-19-related deaths and treatment period in intensive care units," said Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention.
“It will also support the country’s efforts being made to conduct Covid-19 tests and administer vaccines, retaining its leading position among the world's foremost countries, dealing efficiently with the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody that can be used in patients aged over 12 with mild to moderate Covid-19 who are at risk of severe illness.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system's ability to fight pathogens.
When administered early, it can reduce hospital stays for more than 24 hours and fatalities by as much as 85 per cent.
UAE authorities have been working alongside drug developers to ensure protocols are in place for its effective administration across health facilities.
New guidelines are in place to advise doctors on appropriate use and how to direct patients to centres where Sotrovimab will be available.
The news follows an announcement that the Abu Dhabi Department of Health will offer booster shots of the Sinopharm vaccine at more than 100 vaccination centres across the emirate.
"From the earliest days of the pandemic the MoHAP strategy has centred on embracing promising new technologies, including tests, vaccines and treatments in our efforts to subdue Covid-19," said Dr Mohamed Al Olama, the ministry's under-secretary.
“We have been pleased to partner with GlaxoSmithKline to ensure that critical elements are in place to ensure early access, from licensing and shipments to training and new guidelines for doctors.”
The UAE became the first nation to include the treatment in its Covid care programme because of it long-established strategic partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, the company said.
"We are working in close partnership with the MoHAP to ensure that our innovative medicines and vaccines are available to the patients who need them, a mission that has taken on new urgency during the pandemic," said Gizern Akalin, managing director and vice president for the Gulf.
To date, 547,008 people have recovered from Covid-19 in the UAE, while the death toll stands at 1,673.