Antibody cocktail provides much-needed COVID-19 protection – Community News
Covid-19

Antibody cocktail provides much-needed COVID-19 protection

In what could be very good news for the immunocompromised, an antibody cocktail tested at the University of Virginia School of Medicine appears to provide long-lasting protection against COVID-19.

The cocktail, manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by more than 80% for more than eight months, the company said in a press release.

The 81.6% risk reduction observed in the second to eighth months of dosing continues the robust 81.4% risk reduction in the first month.

dr. William A. Petri Jr. was one of the leaders of UVA’s testing of the antibody cocktail. He was pleasantly surprised by the durability of the protection reported by Regeneron. He said the drug may be of particular benefit to immunocompromised people who do not develop a strong response to vaccination.

“The significance of the finding is that the antibody cocktail can prevent COVID-19 in immunocompromised individuals who we know sometimes fail to respond to the vaccine,” said Petri, an infectious disease expert.

Lasting COVID-19 Protection

Regeneron’s new analysis looked at the results of 1,683 people who were not infected with COVID-19 and had no antibodies against the virus.

Of the trial participants who received the cocktail, none were hospitalized for COVID-19 during the following eight months. Only seven were infected with SARS-CoV-2, compared with 38 who received a placebo. Thus, the antibody cocktail provided greater than 80% protection for two to eight months.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration first approved Regeneron’s cocktail in November 2020 to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Federal regulators then extended the authorization in July to allow its use as a preventive treatment in people exposed to COVID-19 and those at high risk of exposure, such as nursing home residents.

Regeneron’s antibody cocktail is not a vaccine and is not a vaccine replacement. However, it could provide major benefits for people who don’t develop a strong immune response to vaccination, such as patents treated for cancer and other people who are immunocompromised, said Petri, of UVA’s Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health.

For such patients, getting a periodic dose of the cocktail — perhaps yearly — could provide immune protection that their own bodies can’t, Petri said. (More research is needed to determine the best dosing interval.)

“While these results still need to be peer reviewed to ensure their accuracy, this is likely an important step forward in the prevention of COVID-19 in immunocompromised people,” said Petri.

About testing

The team testing the cocktail at UVA was led by Petri and Dr. Debbie-Ann Shirley and included Dr. Gregory Madden; Chelsea-Marie; dr. Jennifer Sasson; dr. Jae Shin; dr. Circle Warren; Clinical Research Coordinator Igor Shumilin; assistant Rebecca Carpenter; and COVID-19 Clinic nurses Michelle Sutton, Elizabeth Brooks, Danielle Donigan, Cynthia Edwards, Jennifer Pinnata, Samantha Simmons and Rebecca Wade.

Regeneron founder Leonard Schleifer is an alumnus of the UVA School of Medicine, as is Petri. Both have been honored with the Walter Reed Distinguished Achievement Award from the UVA Medical Alumni Association.

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