Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE's new Covid drug effective against various virus strains

Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli
Filed on May 30, 2021

Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody medication which is directed against the spike protein of Covid-19 virus.

Health authorities in the UAE have authorised the use of Sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody medication to help keep high-risk Covid patients out of the hospital. This drug, developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir, is the third kind of antibody medication to have been approved for use in the UAE and is being touted as a highly effective new treatment.

“Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody medication which is directed against the spike protein of Covid-19 virus. Spike protein is needed for the virus to enter the host cell. Sotrovimab attaches to the spike protein and neutralises the virus by preventing the entry of virus into the host cell,” explains Dr Abhilash Ramachandran Nair, Specialist – Internal Medicine, Aster Hospital, Qusais.

Recent trials suggest the newly authorised drug has been able to neutralise various new variants of Covid-19 reported in the UK, South Africa, Brazil, California, New York, and India, says Dr Suha Alhetary, General Practitioner, Medcare Medical Centre Al Barsha.

“The safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy is being evaluated for treatment of Covid-19. For now, Sotrovimab is not authorised for patients who are hospitalised due to Covid-19 or require oxygen therapy. Sotrovimab will be used for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weight at least 40kg),” says Dr. Suha Alhetary.

The results from the clinical trials look promising. “There is a reduction of 85 per cent in the risk of hospitalisation among people with mild Covid-19 disease who took Sotrovimab within the first five days of symptom onset, suggest trial results,” adds Dr Nair.

Sotrovimab is a single drug designed to mimic the antibodies that are generated naturally when the body’s immune system fights off the coronavirus and would work well for both vaccinated as well as non-vaccinated people.

“This drug would allow patients to fight the disease better and not develop severe symptoms. Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated are allowed to have this because even if the patient has antibodies protecting him already, this drug will further strengthen a body’s defence system,” said Dr Adel Al Sisi, CMO and Consultant ICU, Prime Hospital.

The authorisation of this drug in the UAE comes at a time when despite the high rate of vaccinations, hospitalisations due to Covid-19 are still prevalent. Continued hospitalisations necessitate the use of such drugs. “We have a lot of individuals belonging to the high-risk categories who can benefit from this category of medications. Hence, this medication can help our population even if vaccination is proceeding at a great pace,” adds Dr Nair.

Individuals at high-risk of developing severe Covid-19 infection include senior citizens, diabetic, people with uncontrolled blood pressure, heart diseases, chronic kidney disease, obese individuals, and people on immunosuppressive medications.

Sotrovimab is the third monoclonal drug to be authorised for use in the UAE. The others include bamlanivimab monotherapy (a combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab) and RegnCoV2 (casirivimab-imdevimab). “Data from in vitro lab studies indicate that Sotrovimab might retain effectiveness efficacy against the newer variants of Covid-19. This is also one rationale for its use in individuals who are vaccinated as at the time of diagnosing mild Covid in an at-risk individual, we generally do not know whether the individual has a variant virus or whether the vaccine he has taken has high efficacy in his particular case. The trail also did not exclude vaccinated individuals who developed Covid 19,” says Dr Nair.

The Food and Drug Administration of the US, meanwhile, has revoked use of bamlanivimab monotherapry due to poor effectiveness against some newer variants of Covid-19.

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