The UK-based multinational pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca has revealed that the lab study of its COVID-19 antibody cocktail, Evusheld, has retained neutralizing activity against the Omicron coronavirus variant, showing promise for wider use of the therapy.
The new variant has been detected in 77 countries since it was first identified three weeks ago, fuelling concerns that its large number of mutations will help it spread faster and evade protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
The study on Evusheld was done by independent investigators of the US Food and Drug Administration using so-called pseudoviruses that feature major coronavirus mutations across suspicious variants that have emerged so far.
The researchers found the potency of Evusheld was within the ranges seen in those previously infected with COVID-19, showing promise for wide use of the therapy, which is the first preventative shot other than vaccines against the coronavirus.
Mr. Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, stated that “This study shows Evusheld retains neutralization activity against the Omicron variant. By combining two potent antibodies with different and complementary activities against the virus, Evusheld was designed to evade potential resistance with the emergence of new SARS-COV-2 variants.”
AstraZeneca said more analyses of Evusheld against Omicron are being conducted by the company and third parties, with data expected very soon.
Evusheld has been granted authorization to prevent COVID-19 infections in individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines. Both treatments belong to a class of medicines called monoclonal antibodies which mimic natural antibodies in fighting off infections. AstraZeneca is also working with regulators on applications for the use of Evusheld in treating COVID-19.