The UK has agreed to buy a million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 antibody treatment if it succeeds in Phase 3 trials.
The company is recruiting 5,000 participants globally to evaluate the effectiveness of the combination, called AZD7442, to prevent infection for up to 12 months in people who can’t be given vaccines or don’t respond well to them.
Long-acting antibodies can potentially “treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected with the virus,” the company said in a joint statement with the UK government. The antibody can also be taken prior to exposure to the virus, and can be complementary to a vaccine.
AstraZeneca is playing catch-up as it prepares to report key findings from the vaccine it’s developing with the University of Oxford. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE requested emergency authorization of their Covid vaccine, shown to be 95% effective, in the US on Friday. Moderna Inc. has also released positive interim results from a final-stage trial.
“As we move closer to a Covid-19 vaccine, we must keep driving forward clinical trials for new and alternative treatments that protect our vulnerable, particularly those who cannot receive a vaccine,” U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in the statement.