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Coronavirus

AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody therapy for poor immunity gets UK approval

Published: Updated:

An antibody therapy developed by AstraZeneca Plc won regulatory clearance in the UK to prevent COVID-19 in patients with poor immune defenses.

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The country’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency endorsed the product, called Evusheld, for people who can’t get vaccinated or who don’t mount an immune response when they are.

Vaccines continue to be the first-line defense, 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 in a statement Thursday.

“For these people, Evusheld could provide effective protection.”

The Astra medicine was found to reduce the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 77 percent 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’s unclear how well it works against omicron, and the MHRA said it would work with the drugmaker to establish that.

Separately, Astra’s rare disease branch Alexion agreed to pay $775 million next quarter to settle patent disputes with Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. related to the monoclonal antibody Ultomiris. The company said the settlement won’t affect its financial guidance.

Read more: Drugmakers condemn plan for COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver by WTO

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