COVID vaccine alternative fails in test, AstraZeneca says

Efforts to develop vaccine-free COVID treatment face setback as antibody therapy fails to protect from infection, according to trials.

David Rosenberg ,

COVID-19 test
COVID-19 test
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An alternative coronavirus therapy using antibodies in place of a vaccine has failed to provide protection from COVID symptoms, the therapy’s developer said Tuesday.

AstraZeneca announced Tuesday afternoon that its AZD7442 coronavirus antibody therapy failed to provide a high level of protection from COVID symptoms in late-stage trials.

The treatment, which relies on a combination of two types of cloned antibodies – or monoclonal antibodies - is meant to provide an alternative method of combating the coronavirus without the use of mRNA vaccines.

However, the company said that the treatment was just 33% effective in comparison to a placebo in cutting the risk faced by people exposed to COVID-positive individuals of developing symptoms of the coronavirus.

The phase III study was conducted in the US and UK, and included 1,121 participants.

AstraZeneca said the results were not statistically significant, signaling that the effectiveness of the treatment in comparison to the placebo was not large enough to rule out chance as the cause of the disparity.

Despite the therapy’s apparent failure in the trial, AstraZeneca expressed confidence that further development would lead to an effective alternative to vaccines.

"While this trial did not meet the primary endpoint against symptomatic illness, we are encouraged by the protection seen in the PCR negative participants following treatment with AZD7442," said Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president.

Five other trials for the antibody therapy are already planned or currently underway.