British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has announced that its antibody drug ‘Evusheld’ is effective against the new vaccine evading Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The finding is based on alive virus neutralisation data from University College Oxford, UK, and Washington University School of Medicine, US, which showed that Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab) retains neutralisation activity against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant (B.1.1.529), the company said in a statement.
While the Omicron variant was not in circulation during the Evusheld clinical trials, the company added that it is continuing to collect further data to better understand the implications of this data in clinical practice. The findings from both studies were posted online on preprint server bioRxiv, and not peer-reviewed yet.
In early December, the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Evusheld — an injectable monoclonal antibody cocktail of tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab — for Covid-19 among people with weakened immune systems. It is the first antibody treatment against Covid-19 that has won an EUA from the drug regulator.
According to the researchers, the levels of neutralising potency are within the range of titres found in individuals who have been previously infected with and recovered naturally from Covid-19.
The data were generated from laboratory testing using actual live virus isolated from individuals who contracted the Omicron variant of Covid-19 — considered a ‘gold standard’ for antibody neutralisation studies.
Evusheld is one of only two antibody therapies authorised for use that showed neutralising activity against Omicron and against all other variants of concern in these two studies.
“Consistent data across three independent studies now provide confidence that Evusheld — a combination of two highly potent antibodies — retains neutralising activity against the Omicron variant at a level that will continue to provide benefit to patients,” said Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice-President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca.
“Evusheld is now available to help protect vulnerable populations, such as the immunocompromised, who are unable to mount an adequate response to vaccination and remain at high-risk of Covid-19,” Pangalos added.
Besides the US, Evusheld has also won approval from drug authorities in other countries, including France and Italy.