AstraZeneca hits snag in COVID-19 drug development

AstraZeneca hits snag in COVID-19 drug development

FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are
FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

LONDON: Vaccine-maker AstraZeneca on Tuesday (Jun 15) revealed it had hit a setback in trials of a treatment for the coronavirus.

The drug, made from a combination of two antibodies, failed its main goal to treat COVID-19 symptoms in exposed patients, AstraZeneca said in a statement.

The treatment has been undergoing phase 3 or final clinical trials to assess its safety and efficacy.

AstraZeneca said that 1,121 unvaccinated adults had been exposed to an infected person as part of the trial.

READ: AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots have good risk-benefit profile for over-60s: EMA official

Treatment AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptoms by only 33 per cent - which was "not statistically significant", it added.

The company is nevertheless continuing trials to assess whether the drug can prevent COVID-19 or treat more severe symptoms.

The US government has funded the development of AZD7442 and has agreements to receive 700,000 doses.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford, continues to face safety doubts.

READ: Spain to lift suspension of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for second dose in people under 60

The jab has been suspended in several European countries over reports of rare blood clots.

A top official in the European Medicines Agency on Sunday suggested that it might be worth abandoning AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for all age groups where alternatives are available.

But the EMA said the body's head of vaccine strategy, Marco Cavaleri, had been misrepresented, and that he believed its benefits outweigh its risks.

"The decision on its use in different populations and ages is the prerogative of the EU Member States, based on specific factors such as virus circulation and vaccine availability," a spokeswoman said.

However, a study from British health authorities showed on Monday that two doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford or rival Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines stopped the need for in-patient treatment in more than 90 per cent of cases of the Delta variant.

The UK government on Monday announced a four-week delay to the full lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England due to a surge in infections caused by Delta, which first appeared in India.

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Source: AFP

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