Vir Biotechnology Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s COVID-19 antibody treatment worked against omicron in a lab trial, marking the latest announcement indicating that the research race to fight the new variant is underway.
The companies said Tuesday that an in vitro study has shown that their monoclonal antibody is active against omicron, which has 37 mutations on the spike protein. The antibody treatment, sotrovimab, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in May.
the stock gained 4.2% in trading Tuesday, while the shares of GlaxoSmithKline GSK,
increased by 0.4%.
“We are confident that sotrovimab will continue to provide significant benefit for the early treatment of patients in hopes of avoiding the most serious consequences of COVID-19,” Vir CEO George Scangos said in a statement.
The rise of omicron in recent weeks has set off a chain reaction among COVID-19 drug and vaccine makers, who are now conducting lab studies to evaluate how well their therapies and injections are working against omicron.
The other monoclonal antibody makers have also said they are trying to see if their therapies will work against the new variant. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. REGN,
executives told analysts last week that they expect their treatment to be “potent against omicron,” and more data is expected in the coming weeks. Eli Lilly & Co. Inc. LLY,
said Dec. 3 that it is assessing the “neutralization activity of our therapies on the omicron variant of concern.”
The latest COVID-19 figures
The daily average number of cases in the US rose to 119,751 on Monday, the highest since Sept. 25 and a 28% increase from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. The daily average death toll rose 13% to 1,266, the highest number since Nov. 4. The number of hospital admissions rose by 18% to a record seven weeks of 59,702.
About 199.3 million people in the US, or 60%, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 23% of the population has received a booster dose.
Other COVID-19 news to know:
The World Health Organization said Tuesday it no longer supports restorative plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 patients. “Plasma administration, especially for patients with non-serious disease with a low baseline risk of mortality and other important clinical outcomes, is not warranted,” the organization wrote in The BMJ. The treatment is also considered ineffective in the US, based on the findings of a National Institutes of Health clinical trial.
Europeans now have the choice to “mix and match” their COVID-19 vaccines following a new recommendation from the European Medicines Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The agencies said Tuesday that getting a viral vector vaccine and then an mRNA injection produces “good levels of antibodies” as well as a “higher T-cell response,” whether the admixture is in the primary series or with a booster.
International travelers must submit a negative test from Monday a day before flying to the US. The shorter 72-hour period to get a preflight test is meant to protect people in the U.S., while more information is being gained about the omicron variant, according to the CDC.