A study by a pharma giant shows monoclonal antibodies may hold promise for Covid-19 prevention
Should monoclonal antibodies (MAB) be considered as a back-up for vaccines in case the latter prove ineffective for an individual (say, an immuno-compromised person or an elderly person in whom the vaccine doesn’t elicit a strong enough immune response)?
Science reports that Eli Lilly has claimed, based on a study involving 1,000 people living or working in American nursing homes who received either a single infusion of the pharma giant’s MAB or a placebo, that the MAB cut the risk of Covid-19 over eight weeks of the infusion by 57%.
The risk fell by 80% for nursing-home residents—typically elderly, in whom immune response is likely to have diminished—who constituted nearly a third of the participants in the study.
Eli Lilly’s and Regeneron Pharma’s MAB therapies had received emergency use approval for therapeutic use among those infected and facing a high risk of severe Covid-19. But the costs and the hassles of administration have been deterrents to widespread use. But now, with a preventive role likely demonstrated—Science reports many researchers have welcomed the results, but await more specifics regarding the data—the company is likely to seek EUA for such use.
However, with vaccines being a cheaper option, and easier to administer, too, MABs may be pushed to the background. The impact of viral mutations, feared to impact vaccine success, on MABs is not clear yet, though one pre-print says they could render MABs futile.
Even so, if they can be used to control some strains of the virus, especially for those for whom vaccines don’t hold out much hope, MABs need to be made part of the Covid-fight arsenal.