New variants: Corona drugs ‘not very effective’

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The EU Medicines Agency (EMA) has warned of the dwindling effectiveness of several antibody-based Corona drugs against recent subvariants of the virus. Laboratory tests have shown that the affected preparations are “poorly effective in neutralizing the omicron subvariants BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2 and XBB,” the Amsterdam-based agency said Friday.

So-called monoclonal antibodies, administered by injection or infusion in the hospital, have helped alleviate symptoms of covid-19 in many high-risk patients or hospitalized sufferers. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced proteins that help the immune system fight Covid-19.

Major antibody-based Corona drugs include Evusheld from British pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca, Ronapreve from French group Roche, and Xevudy, developed by British company GlaxoSmithKline and U.S.-based Vir. The World Health Organization (WHO) had already recommended in September that Xevudy and Ronapreve be discontinued because they were no longer effective against new variants.

The EMA now said the antibodies from these drugs also “did not significantly neutralize the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 strains, which are expected to become the dominant subvariants in the EU in the coming weeks.” Antiviral drugs such as paxlovid from pharmaceutical manufacturers Pfizer, on the other hand, are likely to remain effective, according to the EMA. EU member states should therefore stockpile for high-risk patients.

The Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus has evolved in numerous variants since it emerged in China in late 2019. While earlier “variants of concern,” such as Alpha and Delta, eventually subsided, the Omicron variant and its subtypes have dominated infection events throughout 2022.

  • source: krone.at/picture: pixabay.com
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