Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Sotrovimab can change course of UAE’s Covid war

Filed on May 31, 2021

To put it simply, it is an antibody that is injected intravaneously into patients aged 12 and above to systematically reduce the progression of the virus.

Healthcare is one of the most important aspects of governance. While many countries have faltered in this domain during the pandemic, the UAE has set an example with its forward-thinking and prompt action. It announced the lockdown last April to contain the number of coronavirus cases and opened up operations systematically with strict restrictions still in place. It also authorised use of vaccines as early as December as part of an elaborate inoculation programme.

Throughout the pandemic, the country has remained committed to finding solutions and updating its healthcare capabilities. Recently, it approved the emergency use of Sotrovimab, an antibody therapy developed by GlaxoSmithKline. The announcement has made the UAE first country in the world to license and authorise its use immediately. Sotrovimab is known to speed up recovery in Covid-19 patients and reduce chances of deaths by 85 per cent and intensive care hospitalisation. To put it simply, it is an antibody that is injected intravaneously into patients aged 12 and above to systematically reduce the progression of the virus.

Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued an emergency use authorisation for the antibody therapy, following a trial in 583 non-hospitalised adults with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 symptoms. “Of these patients, 291 received Sotrovimab and 292 received a placebo within five days of onset of Covid-19 symptoms. The primary endpoint was progression of Covid-19 (defined as hospitalisation for greater than 24 hours for acute management of any illness or death from any cause) through day 29. Hospitalisation or death occurred in 21 (7 per cent) patients who received placebo compared to 3 (1 per cent) patients treated with Sotrovimab, an 85 per cent reduction,” the FDA noted. However, the FDA has not authorised it for patients who are already hospitalised or need high-flow oxygen.

The news comes shortly after announcement of a Sinopharm booster for residents who have been administered dual doses of the vaccine six months ago. Believed to be ‘highly effective’ against all variants, the treatment revolves around monoclonal antibodies that are essentially lab-made proteins that “mimic the immune system’s ability to fight harmful antigens such as viruses”. Sotrovimab works against the spike protein of the novel coronavirus and reduces its chances of penetrating further into the cells. By reducing chances of hospitalisation, this new line of treatment prevents healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, as has been the case in many countries. Its greater relevance is, however, feasibility of use among younger patients. The introduction of the antibody treatment could change the course of the UAE’s battle against Covid-19.

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