Victoria reported its deadliest day of the latest COVID outbreak on Wednesday, with 13 people infected with the disease dying in the previous 24 hours.
While we are told that we will have to learn to live with these numbers as we learn to live with COVID, AstraZeneca has provided some hope that the number of people who die from the disease could diminish in future, with the successful testing of a new treatment.
According to the pharmaceutical giant, its new antibody cocktail will help prevent the uninfected from catching the virus while also stopping the disease from becoming severe if it is supplied as a treatment within a week of symptoms developing.
The injection is a combination of two antibodies called AZD7442. The company said its trials showed that the treatment reduced the risk of severe COVID or death by 50 per cent in non-hospitalised patients who had symptoms for seven days or less.
The results were even better when the treatment was given within five days of developing symptoms, reducing the risk of developing severe COVID or death by 67 per cent.
One of the investigators on the trial, Professor Hugh Montgomery from the University College London, said therapies like this would play a crucial role in ending the pandemic.
“With continued cases of serious COVID-19 infections across the globe, there is a significant need for new therapies like AZD7442 that can be used to protect vulnerable populations from getting COVID-19 and can also help prevent progression to severe disease,” Prof. Montgomery said.
“These positive results show that a convenient intramuscular dose of AZD7442 could play an important role in helping combat this devastating pandemic.”
AstraZeneca has submitted a request to health regulators around the world for emergency use authorisation for the treatment, which it believes will provide protection from the virus for more than six months.
“These important results for AZD7442, our long-acting antibody combination, add to the growing body of evidence for use of this therapy in both prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” AstraZeneca spokesperson Mene Pangalos said.
“An early intervention with our antibody can give a significant reduction in progression to severe disease, with continued protection for more than six months.”
US drug maker Merck has also developed a pill, which it claims could potentially cut COVID hospitalisations and deaths in half.
That drug, called molnupiravir, is designed to be taken after contracting COVID, to minimise the symptoms and reduce the likelihood of hospitalisation and death.
AstraZeneca says that what sets its antibody cocktail apart from other treatments being developed to reduce the severity of COVID-19 is its ability to provide protection to the uninfected, particularly those who only receive a weak boost from a vaccine.
The company said that AZD7442 was designed to protect people who did not have a strong immune response to vaccines, such as those being treated for cancer or who had received organ transplants.
A separate trial for the use of the drug in hospitalised COVID-19 patients is still ongoing.
Would you like to see the AstraZeneca drug cleared for use in Australia? Are you worried your immune response to the vaccine will not be strong enough? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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