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25 Dec, 2020 22:31

Instant immunity? UK scientists test drug to prevent people exposed to Covid-19 from catching disease via rapid antibodies boost

Instant immunity? UK scientists test drug to prevent people exposed to Covid-19 from catching disease via rapid antibodies boost

British scientists have started testing a new drug that they claim gives instant immunity to Covid-19 and could save many lives by being administered as emergency treatment to those exposed to coronavirus.

“The advantage of this medicine is that it gives you immediate antibodies,” while vaccines against the coronavirus take around a month to fully kick in," Dr Catherine Houlihan, a virologist at University College London Hospitals NHS trust (UCLH), told the Guardian. 

The antibody therapy, which UCLH has developed together with AstraZeneca – the maker of the yet-to-be-approved British vaccine against Covid-19 – may become “an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus,” Houlihan said.

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It could be used in households where someone got the coronavirus, as well as in hospitals, nursing homes, universities and elsewhere to help curb major outbreaks, while the vaccination is underway around the globe.

The scientists believe that the remedy, which is based on AstraZeneca’s AZD7442 long-acting antibody combination, should be effective if offered to someone exposed to Covid-19 in the previous eight days. The immediate protection provided by the drug is reportedly expected to last from for six months to a year.

The trials of the therapy – which right now sounds almost too good to be true with the lockdowns in place and new strains of the virus making headlines – started earlier in December at UCLH, some other UK hospitals and at around a hundred sites abroad. Should its efficacy be proven during tests and get a green light from the British medical regulator, the drug could become available as early as in March or April.

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