New AstraZeneca drug 'prevents and treats COVID'

AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 drug has helped cut the risk of severe disease or death in a late stage study, the British drugmaker said on Monday (October 11), boosting its efforts to develop medicines beyond vaccines.

The drug, which is a cocktail of two antibodies, is the first of its kind to show promise at late stage clinical trials as both a preventative medicine and as treatment for the virus.

Delivered by injection, the antibody therapy reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 or death by 50% in non-hospitalized patients who have had symptoms for seven days or less.

The results of the trial were announced on Monday (October 11).

It is designed to protect high-risk people who do not have a strong enough immune response to the current vaccinations.

The new drug contains lab-made antibodies designed to linger in the body for months and fight the virus in case of infection.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine, used around the world, instead relies on an intact immune system to develop targeted antibodies and infection-fighting cells.

The trial took place over 13 countries and involved more than 900 adults.

The results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

AstraZeneca has already requested emergency approval from U.S. regulators to be able to use the antibody cocktail as a preventative therapy.

The news comes as U.S. drugs giant Merck has also requested emergency approval for a pill aimed to treat patients with mild to moderate infection.

If given the green light, molnupiravir would become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease and the tablet can be taken at home.

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