A combination of drugs can prevent 100 percent of COVID-19 infections, researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have found.
The antibody cocktail is called REGN-COV and is aimed at people who live or come into contact with a COVID-19 patient.
Although it provides a short-term benefit, the drug can block symptomatic infections for those who share a household with a COVID-19 patient.
Moreover, those with no symptoms (asymptomatic) have a lower amount of the virus in their body (viral load) and so the infections resolve in seven days.
Dr William Petri, the leader of this clinical trial, said:
“This is the first treatment shown to prevent COVID-19 after a known exposure, and offers protection for unvaccinated individuals caring for a family member with COVID-19.
We expect that Regeneron will file for emergency use authorization from the FDA so that this drug can be used outside of the context of a clinical trial.”
This is “passive immunization” using antibodies to prevent people from developing disease, despite being exposed to the virus.
For this study, 400 people participated, with 186 receiving the antibody cocktail treatment and the rest getting a placebo.
The results showed that the coronavirus infection rates, both asymptomatic and symptomatic, were 50 percent less in the antibody group compared to the placebo group.
The viral load in placebo recipients who developed infections was 100 times bigger than infected people from the antibody group.
Those in the antibody group who got COVID-19 recovered from the disease within a week, whereas the recovery period was three to four weeks for those patients in the placebo group.
The antibody cocktail is able to reduce the duration of viral shedding, the time when the virus replicates in the body.
Since the viral particles that are being shed can be infectious then reducing the period will lower the risk of spreading the disease.
Dr Petri said:
“Antibody treatments like this are in a way a stop-gap and so, until we can have everyone vaccinated, antibody treatment is in a way beneficial to people that are at risk of the most severe complications of the infection.”
It is likely that the antibody cocktail will also be effective against new coronavirus variants.
Dr Petri said:
“These combinations of antibodies are probably going to be more effective at treating and preventing infections from the new variants because it’s much harder for the virus to mutate around two different antibodies than a single one.”
The antibody cocktail is different with a vaccine and it cannot give long-term protection from COVID-19.
→ The study has not been published in a scientific journal yet.