The United Kingdom (UK) will be the first country to begin clinical trials of a new COVID-19 antibody treatment aimed at people with a weakened immune system who cannot be vaccinated.
The drug, which is moving into large-scale phase 3 trials in the UK, is made by AstraZeneca, the same pharmaceutical company that has partnered with Oxford University to develop a vaccine.
Unlike rival vaccination trials from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, the company has not yet published any efficacy results.
According to London-based radio station, LBC, a participant in Manchester will be the first in the world to receive the pharmaceutical company’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, which can be injected or administered intravenously, is aimed at those who have a weakened immune system and cannot be vaccinated.
The injections will also target those who are unlikely to respond to immunisation – which may include hundreds of thousands people across the country.
“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 said.
“So having monoclonal antibodies as potential therapeutics is also important.”
The coronavirus has infected over 57 million people and killed over 1.3 million people worldwide.