UVA researchers studying antibody cocktail preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 23:00:28-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Dr. Bill Petri and others at UVA Health are studying an antibody cocktail manufactured by Regeneron.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Petri told News 3.

Petri said the therapy can help prevent COVID-19.

“What this does is it gives your immune system a head start,” he said. “It's two different antibodies that are binding to two different parts of the spike-like protein. That makes it harder for the virus with a new variant to evade two antibodies.”

The antibodies are the same ones given to former President Donald Trump in his COVID-19 recovery.

“It may even just be something that could just be prescribed by a physician. You'd give it to yourself at home. You wouldn't even need to come to the hospital,” Petri said.

Petri told News 3 this therapy can be a stop gap until everyone has been vaccinated.

“This is pretty much a standard approach now that patients can administer the antibodies themselves. It's very common like pre-filled syringes, and you basically inject it into the skin over your abdomen or thigh, just like you'd inject insulin,” he said. “This is an approach to take to prevent infection, especially if you're in that situation maybe your spouse or your partner has COVID-19, you're trying to care for them at home and you don't want to, of course, run the risk of you yourself getting infected.”

Researchers started enrolling patients for a Phase 3 clinical trial last summer. Overall, more than 3,000 people took part, including those from African American and Latinx communities ages 18-65, and eventually adolescents ages 12-18.

According to a new analysis from Regeneron looking at outcomes in 400 people, of 223 who got a placebo, eight developed symptomatic COVID-19. Meanwhile, of 186 people who got antibodies, none developed symptomatic COVID-19.

“They're followed very closely to see if they develop the infection for the first month, and then we continue to follow them to make sure there's no safety problems long-term,” Petri said. “Patients in our study will be followed through June.”

After the trial wraps up, Petri said it's expected the therapy will be presented to the FDA for approval for prevention use.

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