The United Kingdom has approved the use of a drug to treat people at high risk of developing severe covid-19 symptoms and according to the manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline, it appears to be effective against the new Omicron variant.
Sotrovimab, the antibody treatment, “was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease”, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said in a statement on Thursday.
GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement that preclinical data showed that the drug “retains activity against key mutations of the new Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant.”
Currently, testing is ongoing to confirm the neutralizing activity of sotrovimab against the combination of all the Omicron mutations with the intent to provide an update at the end of the year.
According to the MHR, a single dose of the drug was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 79% in high-risk adults with symptomatic COVID-19 infection. Sotrovimab is administered by intravenous infusion over a 30 minute period and is approved for individuals aged 12 and older. The MHRA said it is too early to know whether the Omicron variant has any impact on sotrovimab’s effectiveness, but they plan to work with the manufacturers to establish this.
Based on additional trial data, sotrovimab is most effective when taken during the early stages of infection. As such, The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recommends its use as soon as possible and within five days of the onset of symptoms.
The MHRA reiterated that sotrovimab is not intended to be used as a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19 and following Thursday’s approval, the UK’s National Health Service will confirm how this COVID-19 treatment will be administered to patients.