AstraZeneca (AZN.L) informed on Tuesday a late-stage trial botched to provide evidence that its COVID-19 antibody treatment protected people who had interaction with an infected person from the disease.

The trial of 1,121 adult volunteers looked at whether the long-acting antibody combination could protect people who had recently been in contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in places like care homes. The company said it’s running other studies of the medicine that could help clarify the findings.

The conclusion is a shock to Astra for a drug that was anticipated to be a bright spot in the company’s pandemic efforts following the mixed success of its vaccine with the University of Oxford. Other drug makers such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc have had some success in getting similar therapies through clinical tests and approved for people who are at risk of severe disease or can’t get vaccinated.

AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail was only 33% effective at preventing Covid-19 symptoms in people who had been exposed to the virus, failing a study that was key to the drugmaker’s pandemic push.

The Astra medicine engrossed interest even before it could prove its value. The U.S. has ordered up to 700,000 doses of the medicine for delivery in 2021, while the U.K. was already reexamining an earlier order for one million.

Well, antibody drugs are observed as a way to protect people such as cancer patients whose immune systems may not respond as well to vaccines. They may also provide much-needed treatments as countries encounter new variants and waves of infections amid varying speeds of vaccine rollouts.


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Joydev Mishra

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