Published: 28th January 2021
Research shows Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody cocktail effective against coronavirus variants
The cocktail has been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was used to treat former US President Trump when he was tested positive for COVID-19
The tests conducted on two different variants of the coronavirus show that one of the two monoclonal antibodies in Regeneron's cocktail therapy can neutralize both, despite the mutations, researchers reported on Wednesday. According to CNN, the tests also confirm that vaccines are likely to protect people against both the variant first seen in Britain and known as B.1.1.7 and another first noted in South Africa, called B.1.135.
However, the mutations in B.1.135 do allow the virus to evade immune responses a little more, the team, led by Dr David Ho at Columbia University's Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, reported in a pre-print report -- one not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. The cocktail has been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was used to treat former US President Donald Trump when he was tested positive for COVID-19 last year.
"As we expected, the virus continues to mutate, and these data show the continued ability of REGEN-COV to neutralize emerging strains, further validating our multi-antibody cocktail approach to infectious diseases," Regeneron president Dr George Yancopoulos said in a statement, as quoted by CNN. Yancopoulos added, "With two complementary antibodies in one therapeutic, even if one has reduced potency, the risk of the cocktail losing efficacy is significantly diminished, since the virus would need to mutate in multiple distinct locations to evade both antibodies."
The team led by Ho tested convalescent plasma from 20 patients who recovered from COVID-19, and also blood from 22 people who got two doses of either Pfizer's or Moderna's coronavirus vaccines. CNN further reported that the team also tested Eli Lilly and Company's single monoclonal antibody treatment, which also has a EUA. The mutations in B.1.1.7 had small effects if any. But one mutation especially, in B.1.135, did reduce the efficacy of the immune response in convalescent plasma, in both vaccines, of one of Regeneron's antibodies and of Lilly's antibody, they said.
The same mutation is found in a variant first seen in Brazil. "Mutationally, this virus is traveling in a direction that could ultimately lead to escape from our current therapeutic and prophylactic interventions directed to the viral spike," Ho's team wrote as reported by CNN. "If the rampant spread of the virus continues and more critical mutations accumulate, then we may be condemned to chasing after the evolving SARS-CoV-2 continually, as we have long done for influenza virus," it added.
The team also said that the world must vaccinate people faster and, in the meantime, double down on measures to stop the spread of the virus, such as the use of masks.