European scientists close to coronavirus antibody breakthrough

Scientists from the UK and Sweden are reportedly close to a breakthrough on an antibody treatment for COVID-19 that could be lifesaving for those who become infected by the virus. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 07 June 2020

European scientists close to coronavirus antibody breakthrough

  • British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is developing the treatment
  • Antibody injections instantly arm the body with the ability to neutralize the virus

LONDON: Scientists from the UK and Sweden are reportedly close to a breakthrough on an antibody treatment for COVID-19 that could be lifesaving for those who become infected by the virus.
British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is developing the treatment, which may initially be prioritized for elderly and vulnerable patients due to cost.
Antibody injections instantly arm the body with the ability to neutralize the virus, and the treatment could be a game-changer for those in the early stages of infection.
Pascal Soriot, AstraZaneca’s chief executive, said the treatment being developed is a “combination of two antibodies, because by having both you reduce the chance of resistance developing to one antibody.”
Antibody therapy is more expensive than vaccine production, however, with Soriot saying the former would be prioritized for the elderly and vulnerable, “who may not be able to develop a good response to a vaccine.”
The treatment is now being tested at “full speed,” and executives are hopeful that it will go into full production next year.
Antibody treatment can be used for similar purposes as a vaccine, which normally sparks a bodily reaction to create its own antibodies.
Over 200 teams worldwide are racing to be the first to develop a vaccine, with scientists from Oxford University in the UK among the frontrunners.
The Oxford University team is working in partnership with AstraZeneca and conducting human trials in Brazil, the current epicenter of the pandemic. They expect to know by August if the vaccine works.
They have already begun manufacturing the vaccine to ensure rapid rollout should it be effective, and have agreed to supply 2 billion doses worldwide by the end of the year.
On Thursday, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates struck a deal with the Oxford-AstraZeneca team to supply half the planned doses to low- and middle-income countries.


Japan in deal to purchase AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 44 min 17 sec ago

Japan in deal to purchase AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

  • Japan announced a deal last week to buy 120 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech

TOKYO: Japan has agreed to acquire 120 million doses of AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine if it is successfully developed, the health minister said on Friday.
The agreement comes after Japan announced a deal last week to buy 120 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech.