AstraZeneca’s Monoclonal Antibody Works Against COVID-19 Variant Omicron: Studies

New studies show that AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody drug is effective against the COVID-19 variant Omicron, according to a new report.

“The company’s EVUSHELD retains neutralization activity against omicron, according to ‘live’ virus neutralization data from both University College Oxford and Washington University School of Medicine,” ABC News reported.

AstraZeneca’s treatment was authorized on December 8 but used to prevent COVID-19 “among people who are immune compromised, or people who are allergic to vaccine components. It is not authorized as a way to treat COVID-19 among people who have already tested positive,” ABC reported.

“There are three monoclonal antibody treatments currently authorized to treat people who already have COVID-19. Two of those treatments — those made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron — appear to have very little activity against omicron. A third treatment, made by Vir and GlaxoSmithKline, appears to work against omicron but is currently in short supply. The companies are working to scale up production,” said the network.

Meanwhile, Moderna this week announced that its booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine significantly raises the level of antibodies to battle the Omicron variant.

The pharmaceutical company’s testing shows that “the currently authorized booster dose of 50 micrograms — half the dose given for primary immunization — increased the level of antibodies by roughly 37-fold, the company said,” according to the New York Times. “A full dose of 100 micrograms was even more powerful, raising antibody levels about 83-fold compared with pre-boost levels, Moderna said.”

The company did say, however, that its booster shot “produced side effects comparable to those seen after the two-dose primary series. But the dose of 100 micrograms showed slightly more frequent adverse reactions relative to the authorized 50-microgram dose,” said the Times.

Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech, who jointly produce coronavirus vaccines, announced that their booster shot also increases the level of antibodies against Omicron.

Meanwhile, a new study of early data about the Omicron variant has found that the most common symptoms are akin to the common cold.

The ZOE COVID Symptoms Study, which has been tracking symptoms reported by participants using a smartphone app, reported that the top five symptoms for Omicron are runny nose, headache, fatigue (mild or severe), sneezing, and sore throat. The data were collected between December 3 and 10 in London.

The new strain differs from previous strains, which often brought high fevers, a heavy cough, and the loss of smell. “Hopefully people now recognize the cold-like symptoms which appear to be the predominant feature of Omicron. These are the changes that will slow the spread of the virus,” ZOE lead scientist Tim Spector said in a news release on Thursday.

“Omicron is set to be the dominant strain in the UK by Christmas, and in the New Year cases could hit a peak higher than anything we’ve ever seen before,” Spector said. “In London cases have been rising rapidly, but this will likely slow down soon, as people change their behavior, such as wearing face masks again, cancelling parties and working from home more.”

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