GSK & Vir Biotech sign pact with U.S to supply Covid-19 antibody therapy doses worth US$1 billion

USA – The US government has signed contracts worth approximately US$1 billion to secure the antibody-based Covid-19 treatment developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology, the drug makers have announced.

GSK and Vir said in a joint statement that the treatment, branded Xevudy, will be available in the United States by December 17, with the government having the option to purchase additional doses until March 2022.

Other public deals for the drug, on the other hand, include 10,000 doses for Canada and up to 220,000 doses for the European Union. The monetary value of those orders has not been disclosed.

In the United States, sotrovimab is approved for emergency use to prevent mild or moderate cases of Covid-19 from worsening.

Although EU-wide approval is still pending, the European Medicines Agency has given its approval for use by member states., the treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 79% in adults with mild to moderate Covid-19

Last week, partners GSK and Vir announced that the drug was shown in a trial to work just as well when administered as a shot in the arm as it did when administered via standard infusion, potentially providing more convenience.

While vaccines remain at the heart of the long-term fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, treatments such as game-changing antiviral pills from Merck and Pfizer provide options for infection containment and life-saving.

Pfizer announced that it was seeking approval in the United States for its experimental antiviral COVID-19 pill, which reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in adults at risk of severe disease by 89 percent in a clinical trial.

Sotrovimab, unlike Merck and Pfizer’s oral options, is administered via infusion. It is a type of medicine known as a monoclonal antibody, which are lab-created compounds that mimic the body’s natural defenses to fight off infections.

Monoclonal antibodies fight infections in the same way that natural antibodies do. They, unlike vaccines, do not rely on the body to produce an immune response and can thus benefit people with weakened or compromised immune systems.

Similar products are offered by Eli Lilly, Regeneron, AstraZeneca and Celltrion. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently backed similar antibody therapies from American-Swiss partners Regeneron-Roche and Celltrion of South Korea as the region strengthens its defense against rising Covid-19 cases.

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