COVID-19: UK volunteer first in the world to trial coronavirus antibody treatment

Saturday 21st November 2020 09:45 GMT

A volunteer in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, will be the first in the world to receive AstraZeneca's new "antibody cocktail" as part of the trial to test whether it will prevent COVID-19 for up to year.

The clinical trial programme will recruit 5,000 participants, which includes 1,000 people from nine sites in the UK.

The aim of the trial is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies - man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.

Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said the treatment can be injected or administered intravenously.

"There is going to be a significant number of people - even in a world where vaccines are highly effective - who will not respond to vaccines, or in fact will not take vaccines," he added.

"So having monoclonal antibodies as potential therapeutics is also important."

The UK government has an in-principle agreement to secure access to one million doses of the antibody combination, dubbed AZD7442, if it is successful in the phase three trials.

The trial aims to enrol adults who are at increased risk of coronavirus infection or who are more likely to have an inadequate response to vaccination, and will include people from health care and care home settings.

Initial results from the randomised control trial are expected to be published in the first half of 2021, although the trial is expected to last for 12 months.

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While it is unclear how much the antibody treatment will cost, Sir Mene said it will be "more expensive than vaccines", but added "we hope to make it cost effective".

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "As we move closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, we must keep driving forward clinical trials for new and alternative treatments that protect our vulnerable, particularly those who cannot receive a vaccine."

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