WHO supports the use of antibody drugs to treat Covid-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Panel on September 24 recommended the use of a mixture of ronapreve antibodies in the treatment of Covid-19 in people at high risk of hospitalization.

The drug has been urgently approved in more than 20 countries, including the US, Japan, UK and India, for use to treat or prevent acute nCoV infection. However, it cannot replace vaccination. The antibody mixture is suitable for people at risk of severe disease when infected with Covid-19.

The drug is used in the form of an infusion, preventing the process of nCoV attaching to human respiratory cells. A mixture containing two monoclonal antibodies is casirivimab and imdevimab (generated in the experimental environment).

The drug strengthens immunity, eliminates viruses and helps patients recover from nCoV infection. It works similar to convalescent plasma therapy, in which doctors take antibodies from people who have recovered from Covid-19 and give them to people who are infected with the virus.

Ronapreve has undergone several clinical trials around the world. As of July, 16,000 patients, both hospitalized and non-hospitalised, were on the drug in the trial, according to Regeneron, a pharmaceutical company.

A phase three study involving 1,500 volunteers in the US, Romania and Moldova found that ronapreve reduced the risk of nCoV infection in F1s by 81%. At F0, the drug helps to reduce symptoms and viral load in the body.

In the UK study, which involved 9,700 patients, the drug reduced the number of deaths by a fifth.

The headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, April 6. Photo: Reuters

However, WHO admits the weakness of ronapreve is the high cost. The organization called on Regeneron to reduce the price and equitable distribution of the drug worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The agency also pushed the company to transfer drug manufacturing technology.

French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) also responded to WHO comments, asking to ensure the sustainable and rational distribution of Covid-19 medicines during the pandemic.

Regeneron has committed to providing an additional 1.4 million doses of ronapreve to the US government by January 31 next year, at a cost of $2,100 per dose.

Thuc Linh (Follow Reuters)


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