British scientists have tried a drug to prevent infection leading to Covid Coronavirus

British scientists are testing a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from developing Covid-19 disease, which experts say could save many lives.

Antibody therapy would provide immediate immunity to the disease and could be provided as emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and nursing home residents to help combat epidemics.

People living in households where someone has caught Covid could get an injection with the drug to make sure they don’t get infected too. It could also be given to students, among whom the virus has spread rapidly because they live, study and socialize together.

Dr Catherine Houlihan, a virologist at the University of London, NHS Trust Hospital (UCLH) who is conducting a study called Storm Chaser on drugs, said: “If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people exposed to the virus from continuing to develop Covid -19 would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this terrible virus. “

The drug was developed by UCLH and AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company that has also, together with Oxford University, created a vaccine that the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency is due to approve for use in Britain next week.

The team hopes the trial shows that the antibody cocktail protects against Covid-19 for between six and 12 months. Test participants receive it in two doses, one after the other. If approved, it will be offered to someone who has been exposed to Covid in the previous eight days.

It could be available as early as March or April if approved by the drug regulator after reviewing the evidence from the study. ULCH, several other British hospitals and a network of 100 locations around the world are taking part in the trial. This month, University College Hospital became the first place in the world to recruit patients into a randomized controlled trial and give them a sting or placebo.

“To date, we have injected 10 participants – staff, students and other people – who have been exposed to the virus at home, in healthcare facilities or student halls,” Houlihan said. She and colleagues will closely monitor participants to see which of them is developing Covid-19.

The immediate protection the drug promises could play a vital role in reducing the impact of the virus until everyone is immunized. The vaccination program is underway using the Pfizer / BioNTech sting and is expected to last until next summer.

The NHS England accelerated the vaccine application this week after criticism from hospital chiefs, general practice leaders and former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt that it had taken too long.

“The advantage of this drug is that it gives you instant antibodies,” Houlihan said. “We could tell the participants who were exposed: yes, you can get the vaccine. But we would not tell them that it would protect them from disease, because by then it was too late [because the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines do not confer full immunity for around a month]. ”

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia who deals with infectious diseases, said that the new treatment could significantly reduce the number of deaths from Covid.

“If you are dealing with seizures in environments such as nursing homes or if you have patients who are particularly at risk of getting serious Covid disease, such as the elderly, then this could save a lot of lives. If this is shown in stages 3, it could play a big role in keeping people alive who would otherwise die. So, that should be a big deal, ”he said.

“If an outbreak has occurred in a nursing home, you may want to use this type of antibody cocktail to bring the attack under control as soon as possible by giving the medicine to everyone in the nursing home – residents and staff – who is not” not vaccinated. Similarly, if you live with an older grandmother and you or someone else in the house becomes infected, you could give her this to protect her. “

The medicine includes a combination of long-acting antibodies known as AZD7442, developed by AstraZeneca. Instead of antibodies produced by the body to help fight infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies created in the laboratory.

In clinical trial documents registered by AstraZeneca in the United States, he explains that he is investigating “the efficacy of AZD7442 for post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19 in adults. Protein class Sars-CoV-2 contains RBD virus [receptor-binding domain], which allows the virus to bind to receptors on human cells. By targeting this region of the spike virus protein, antibodies can block the binding of the virus to human cells, and are therefore expected to block infection. “

In a separate study, called Provent, the UCLH investigates whether the drug can also protect people with damaged immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, who have recently been exposed to the virus but have not had the vaccine or who have not had immunity because of their ground condition. Both the Provent and Storm Chaser trials are now in phase 3.

Dr Nicky Longley, an infectious disease counselor at UCLH, who is leading another study, said: “We will recruit elderly or long-term care people who have conditions such as cancer and HIV that can affect their immune system’s ability to respond to the vaccine . We want to convince anyone where the vaccine may not work that we can offer an alternative that is equally protective. “

Both trials are conducted at the new UCLH research center, funded by the NHS research service, the National Institutes of Health Research, and led by prof. Vincenzo Libri.

Dr Richard Jarvis, co-chair of the British Medical Association’s Public Health Committee, said: “For the vast majority of the population, vaccination offers the best protection against Covid-19, and NHS staff are working day and night to get as many vulnerable patients in this first wave.”

“It will certainly be interesting to see if these trials are effective. But it is important that all new treatments are thoroughly researched, studied and, most importantly, safe before we consider their introduction. “