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Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

GlaxoSmithKline had said research shows its Covid-19 antibody treatment is effective against the full combination of mutations in the new Omicron variant.

Tests done in-vitro against a pseudo-virus that recreates a synthesised version of Omicron showed that sotrovimab, Glaxo’s antibody treatment, stands up to all mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant and not just the key mutations, the drugmaker said in a statement on Tuesday. The tests included all 37 mutations identified to date in the spike protein. 

Shares of Vir Biotechnology, the drug’s co-developer, were up as much as 7.4% in premarket trading. Glaxo rose 0.5% in London after a study showed that the UK drugmaker’s vaccine developed with Medicago  showed efficacy against several variants of Covid-19.

Glaxo’s observations come amid uncertainty about whether Omicron erodes the defences of existing medicines and vaccines — and by how much. Its many mutations, particularly on the spike protein that’s the target of most treatments, have sparked concern worldwide and spooked financial markets.

Business Day TV spoke to Alex van den Heever, health & social security systems specialist at Wits University for his take on SA's response to the new variant, Omicron.

Given the less-than-three-fold drop in neutralisation during tests, “we are confident that sotrovimab will continue to provide significant benefit for the early treatment of patients hoping to avoid the most severe consequences of Covid-19,” said Vir CEO George Scangos.

Sotrovimab reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate Covid-19 by 79% in trials. The drug won clearance from UK regulators this month. 

Glaxo said last week the drug was effective against key mutations in Omicron but the more recent tests provide more certainty it could hold up against the variant.

The injected antibodies are just one tool in the arsenal of Covid-19 treatments, but they could be key to immune-suppressed people who don’t mount an adequate response to vaccines and help lessen the effects of the virus in those more susceptible to severe disease.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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