Britain approves AstraZeneca's antibody-based Covid therapy

Evusheld found to reduce the risk of developing symptomatic Covid by 77 per cent

Evusheld is a two-shot dose. AP
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An antibody therapy developed by AstraZeneca won regulatory clearance in the UK to prevent Covid-19 in patients with poor immune defences.

The country’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) endorsed the product, called Evusheld, for people who cannot get vaccinated or who do not produce an immune response when they are.

Vaccines continue to be the first line of defence, but “we know that some people may not respond adequately to these vaccines and for a small number of individuals Covid-19 vaccines may not be recommended”, June Raine, the agency’s chief executive, said on Thursday. “For these people, Evusheld could provide effective protection.”

The medicine was found to reduce the risk of developing symptomatic Covid by 77 per cent in a clinical trial, with protection continuing for at least six months after one dose.

The long-acting drug combination is approved in the US for high-risk people. It is unclear how well it works against the omicron variant, and the MHRA said it would work with the drugmaker to establish that.

Separately, AstraZeneca's rare disease branch Alexion agreed to pay $775 million next quarter to settle patent disputes with Chugai Pharmaceutical related to the monoclonal antibody Ultomiris. The company said the settlement will not affect its financial guidance.

Updated: March 17, 2022, 9:08 AM