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A new antibody treatment may offer protection against severe Covid-19 for up to 18 months


A new treatment could soon help protect people from developing severe Covid-19. AstraZeneca has just released results from a phase 3 clinical trial – the final stage of testing before a drug is authorised – that suggest its new Covid-19 treatment, AZD7442, is effective at reducing severe disease or death in non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

The treatment contains antibodies, which are usually produced naturally in response to a Covid-19 infection or vaccination. They work by recognising specific parts of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – and either attack these directly or bind to them to stop the virus from working and flag it for destruction by other parts of the immune system.

After they have done their job of clearing the virus, the antibodies remain in the body for a period of time, making up part of our immunological memory. If what they target is encountered again, they can leap into action.

The new treatment, AZD7442, uses special antibodies called monoclonal antibodies. These are antibodies produced in a lab that imitate the body’s natural defences – in this case mimicking the immune system’s response to Covid-19.

Artificially developing antibodies to fight disease is not a new technique. This technology is already used to treat many diseases, including leukaemia, breast cancer and lupus. In fact,…

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