Drugmaker says its experimental COVID-19 drug helped cut the risk of severe symptoms or death in a late-stage study.

The drug, a mix of two antibodies called AZD7442, reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 or death by 50 per cent in non-hospitalised patients who have had symptoms for seven days or fewer, meeting the main goal of the study.

AstraZeneca’s therapy, delivered via needle, is the first of its kind to show encouragement as preventive medicine and as a treatment for COVID-19 following multiple trials. It is intended to protect people who do not have a strong enough immune response to vaccines.

The trial took place across 13 countries and involved more than 900 adult participants, with one half receiving AZD7442 and the rest a placebo. Full trial results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, AstraZeneca said.

AZD7442 contains laboratory-made antibodies designed to linger in the body for months to contain the virus in case of an infection. A vaccine, in contrast, relies on an intact immune system to develop targeted antibodies and infection-fighting cells.

“An early intervention with our antibody can give a significant reduction in progression to severe disease, with continued protection for more than six months,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president at AstraZeneca.

While Monday’s results cover the use of AZD7442 in non-hospitalised patients, a separate trial is also studying its use as a treatment for hospitalised COVID-19 patients.


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