Experts said today that Britain should be following the lead of the USA and approve AstraZeneca’s revolutionary drug to prevent vulnerable adults becoming sick in the Omicron wave.
Evusheld is an antibody cocktail that was shown to reduce the chance of getting ill from Covid by approximately 80 percent.
The US emergency approved it last night to treat over-12s with severe immunocompromised.
The move, according to doctors, will boost the immunity system of those most vulnerable adults who receive less benefit from vaccinations.
The drug is administered by two injections into the arm. Britain already has ordered one million doses, and the US 700,000.
Although the UK’s Medicines Regulator is currently considering this treatment in a rolling review process, neither AstraZeneca nor the watchdog can advise when approval could be granted.
MailOnline was told by experts that the Omicron variant is safe for the protection of 500,000 people with weak immunity systems. Therefore, it is important to approve this drug in the UK.
Because they lack an immune response to vaccination, the treatment targets immunocompromised patients at higher risk for Covid.
Evusheld can be administered by giving two injections in the arm to patients. This has been proven to eliminate all Covid strains prior to Omicron.
MailOnline spoke with Professor Lawrence Young of Warwick University, who is a virusologist. Young said: “This is a very limited population. However, there are other ways to protect it.”
Early data indicates it may work against Omicron.
AstraZeneca published data that showed it was effective on all Covid strains before the super-mutant variant. It also offered protection from symptoms for at most six months.
Professor Young stated: “It’s not.” Important to ensure that this (Evusheld), is available in the UK as an emergency backup.
Principal scientist of medical research charity LifeArc Dr Kovilen Sawmynaden said that the US approval is “great news” for many immunocompromised patients who are unable to have the vaccine.
They are advised to take a third dose after eight weeks.
Dr Sawmynaden stated that Omicron’s efficacy is yet to be established and it would be fascinating to observe how future-proof the drug will remain.
“Recently approved monoclonal medicines in the UK are currently only offered as treatment options,” she said.
“Because this is the case, the new drug could be of real benefit in the fight for the protection of the UK’s immune-compromised population. If a similar request was made to the MHRA, it would.
The UK has already approved antibody treatments ronapreve, which can prevent and treat Covid, and sotrovimab, which cuts the risk of severe illness among infected people.
Evusheld, if the UK followed America’s lead, would be Britain’s first Covid treatment. It is intended to prevent people getting sick.
Current vaccines train the body to recognise Covid — but the immune system still needs to produce its own antibodies.
Evusheld skips the process and makes antibodies immediately accessible.
Two types of laboratory-made antibodies are contained in it. These were taken from the survivors and then artificially altered to make them last longer.
The proteins bind to the virus’ spike protein — which it uses to invade cells — to stop an infection, or to prevent the pathogen from replicating.
The immune system of most people produces antibodies to fight the infection.
Many immunosuppressed individuals have an immune system so fragile that their bodies are unable to produce a reaction even after being vaccinated.
AstraZeneca tested Evusheld in 5,000 people with immunosuppression at 87 locations across the US, UK and Spain. Evusheld was administered to 300mg of the volunteers.
After six months, people who were given the drug were 83% less likely to develop symptoms of Covid six months later.
There were no deaths or severe illnesses among the Evusheld recipients.
AstraZeneca monitors the patients for 15 months, in order to assess the duration of protection.
Omicron mutations did not indicate that treatment against this variant would be less effective, however studies are ongoing to verify.
Yesterday the US Food and Drug Administration declared that they would give the injections for over-12s who have a moderately to severe compromised immune system or history of adverse reactions to Covid vaccinations.
MailOnline was informed by Dr Krishna Prasad (MHRA deputy director for licensing), that approvals of drug applications can be commercially sensitive and therefore details about when the drug could be approved cannot been shared.
She stated that all received materials will be evaluated within the most efficient time, while still maintaining high safety standards and quality.
The Prime Minister yesterday night announced that the UK would adopt Plan B as a means to combat Omicron.
Although only 568 cases were confirmed in the UK, scientists at Government believe that there are more than 20 times as many cases.
Chiefs of health warned that 1,000 hospitals could be opened per day in the next month if there is no response.