A large British study concluded on Wednesday that a mixture of Covid-19 antibodies developed by the drug company Regeneron reduced the number of deaths of patients in hospitals whose bodies failed to generate an immune response.
The treatment, known as Regen-Cove, has been approved for emergency use in the United States for people with mild to moderate symptoms, but results from the “Recovery” trial provide the clearest evidence of its effectiveness for hospitalized patients.
The experiment found that antibody treatment reduced the number of deaths that occurred within 28 days of establishing infection with the Corona virus by a fifth, among patients who were being treated in hospitals and whose immune system did not respond by producing antibodies.
The researchers said that this result means six fewer deaths among every 100 patients with the condition who received this treatment.
There was no noticeable effect of the treatment for those whose bodies responded normally and produced antibodies.
“People were very, very pessimistic about the effectiveness of any antiviral treatment for this particular virus after patients were admitted to the hospital,” Martin Landray, the lead researcher who participated in the experiment, told reporters.
“If you don’t produce antibodies on your own, it will really help you to get some,” he added.
He added that the treatment also shortened the length of stay in the hospital and reduced the likelihood of them needing respirators.
Regeneron belongs to a class of biotechnology-based drugs called monoclonal antibodies. The treatment mimics the antibodies your body produces to fight infection.
“This is the first time we’ve had a treatment that targets the virus itself,” Landray said, adding that it could be used in combination with other drugs. Other companies are developing similar treatments.
The United States granted emergency use approval for Eli Lilly & Co.’s antibody therapy, as well as Fair Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline, for patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
But some cautioned that the comparison between the cost and benefit of the drug will not be clear until more details of the study are available.
Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacology and impact pharmacology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the actual effect on death “is not significant, and means that a large number of people (maybe 20) would have to be treated with the expensive drug to prevent one death.”