An antibody treatment purchased by the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) and used in severe cases of coronavirus has failed in new tests.
- Daniel Krähenbühl, Gabriela Graber/cde
The effect of an anti-Covid drug on the Delta variant is questioned by a study from the University of Cambridge. Researchers in Professor Ravi Gupta’s team have studied the effectiveness of antibody cocktails used to treat severe cases of coronavirus. In this study, the group of scientists also tested the active substances that will be used in Switzerland: casirivimab, imdevimab and bamlanivimab. The results are disappointing: “Bamlanivimab, which has been shown to be effective in a clinical trial against previous variants, was unable to neutralize the Delta variant.” Note that the study has not yet been reviewed by a panel of experts.
Imdevimab is part of the cocktail of two REGN-COV2 antibodies, a drug developed to produce resistance to the coronavirus. It also did not show the same effect as against the previous variants. The cocktail’s second ingredient, casirivimab, was also found to be less effective against the Delta variant, the authors write on Twitter.
According to Christian Garzoni, infectious disease specialist and director of the Moncucco clinic in Lugano, the authors of the study have indeed shown that the antibody called bamlanivimab works poorly against the Delta variant. However, this treatment has already been purchased by the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP). For Garzoni, “the Confederation bought what was available. It was the right decision. ”
On the other hand, the infectious disease specialist is delighted that the study has proven the effectiveness of the sotrovimab antibody against the Delta variant. “The Confederation recently signed a contract for the purchase of 3,000 doses of this drug,” he explains. This antibody had also been discovered and developed by the company Humabs Biomed, based in Bellinzona.
As for the Confederation, it “aims at a risk diversification strategy, which is why it is looking for contracts for various promising products”, declared a spokesperson for the FOPH.