AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail Evusheld effective against Omicron, finds study
AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody cocktail, Evusheld, effectively works against the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the company said Thursday citing a lab study. The study was conducted by independent investigators of the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, studies continue to evaluate Evusheld's neutralizing activity against Omicron, and the data in this regard is expected "very soon." Here are more details.
Why does this story matter?
Evusheld is the first preventative shot other than vaccines against the coronavirus. It also received Emergency Use Approval (EUL) in the US for individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines. The latest findings by the FDA study show promise for wider use of the therapy.
Studies underway to establish Evusheld's efficacy
The researchers reportedly found the potency of Evusheld was within the ranges seen in those previously infected with COVID-19. Notably, the Omicron variant had not emerged when the clinical trials of Evusheld were underway. Thus, the company is continuing to collect further data to better understand Evusheld's effectiveness in clinical practice. The studies in this regard are being conducted by AstraZeneca and third parties.
What do we know about Evusheld?
Evusheld is made up of two monoclonal antibodies: tixagevimab and cilgavimab. Notably, monoclonal antibodies aim to stop COVID-19 from worsening during early, milder stages. These lab-made antibodies are designed to linger in the body for months to contain the virus in case of an infection. Evushled, given in two sequential injections, is designed to last several months to a year.
How Evusheld is different from vaccines?
While vaccines rely on strengthening the immune system to develop targeted antibodies or infection-fighting cells, AstraZeneca's therapy doesn't rely on the body to create an immune response. Evusheld with its monoclonal antibodies mimics natural antibodies in fighting off the infection.
Evusheld helpful for immunocompromised individuals
Even though vaccines provide the best protection against the virus, certain immunocompromised individuals or those with a history of severe adverse reactions to vaccines need an alternative prevention option, said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Since Evusheld doesn't rely on the body to create an immune response, it can help individuals with weak or compromised immune systems.
Evusheld received EUA in the US in December for individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side-effects from vaccines. However, it is only approved for adults or adolescents who are not currently infected with COVID-19 or haven't recently been exposed to an infected individual. As per its last-stage trial, Evusheld can reduce the risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms by 77%.