WHO says critically ill Covid patients unable to build adequate immune response can undergo treatment with Regeneron synthetic antibodies
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday recommended treatment with synthetic Regeneron antibodies for Covid-19, but only in patients with specific health profiles.
People with non-severe Covid-19 who are nonetheless at high risk of hospitalization can take the antibody combo, as can critically ill patients unable to develop an adequate immune response, according to a WHO finding published in BMJ .
Regeneron is only the third treatment for Covid to be recommended by the World Health Authority, which added it to its ‘WHO living guideline’ on drugs for Covid-19.
In July, the WHO gave the green light to a class of drugs that work to suppress a dangerous overreaction of the immune system to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid.
These drugs work well in tandem with corticosteroids, which were first recommended by the WHO for use in Covid patients in September 2020.
The Regeneron cocktail of synthetic antibodies – casirivimab and imdevimab – has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization for unvaccinated, elderly or immunocompromised patients with Covid, according to three clinical trials that have yet to be peer reviewed , according to the BMJ.
For the second category of patients covered by the new WHO recommendation, another trial reported a reduced number of deaths and cases requiring mechanical ventilation in patients taking the drugs.
“For all other covid-19 patients, the benefits of this antibody therapy are unlikely to be significant,” the WHO concluded.
Designed by biotech company Regeneron and marketed by pharmaceutical giant Roche as Ronapreve, the treatment was administered to former US President Donald Trump during his contact with the coronavirus.
When used together, the monoclonal antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, neutralizing the ability of the virus to infect cells.
The World Health Organization “welcomes the addition of another therapy to the global arsenal against COVID-19”, but has expressed concern about the impact of high prices on health inequalities.
“Given the high cost and low availability of combination therapy, [global health agency] UNITAID is negotiating with Roche Pharmaceutical (…) for lower prices and equitable distribution in all regions, especially in low and middle income countries, ”WHO said in a separate statement.
“WHO is also in talks with the company for a donation and distribution of the drug through UNICEF.”
The United Nations health authority has also called on other manufacturers to submit “bio-similar” versions of the drug for approval.
In July, Japan became the first country to fully approve Regeneron’s antibody treatment for patients with mild to moderate Covid-19.
The antibody combination has been cleared for emergency or temporary use during a pandemic in a number of countries and regions, including the European Union, United States, India, Switzerland and Canada. .