New antibody treatment not a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19, experts say

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A new antibody treatment, which AstraZeneca claims to prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms, was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday for emergency approval.

The primary use would be for people with chronic conditions, where vaccines have been less effective.

If the FDA grants emergency use authorization, this would be the first option of its kind that’s claimed to be long lasting.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital are encouraged by this new potential weapon in the fight against the virus. They say this treatment is produced in a laboratory and vaccine hesitant individuals may not view the cocktail of drugs as a viable alternative because it’s been developed much like COVID-19 vaccines.

“These are not a replacement to vaccination or the non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infection prevention medical director at KU Health, said. “They are an adjunct to help the people who don’t respond to the vaccine or who have not mounted a good enough response and are still at risk of going to the hospital from COVID-19.”

These antibodies are injected into your muscles, just like traditional vaccines. The treatment consists of two shots given at the same time, instead of spaced apart.

The company says the antibodies could also be used with people at risk of having allergic reactions to the vaccine or as an extra prevention measure for fully vaccinated people.

In clinical trials, AstraZeneca says the treatment is 77 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. About three-quarters of the participants in the trial had chronic diseases that would make the vaccines less effective among them. Full trial results have not been published yet or reviewed by independent researchers.

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