A year and a half after the start of the pandemic, scientists have found an effective antiviral treatment to reduce mortality in patients with severe forms. Manufactured by the US company Regeneron, REGEN-COV rose to fame in October 2020, when it was used by former US President Donald Trump, who then had Covid-19. It was the subject of a randomized trial by the Briton Recovery.
The latter tested it in 9,785 patients hospitalized between September 2020 and May 2021, according to the journal Sciences et Avenir, which cites results published on June 16. Monoclonal antibodies, which target the coronavirus to prevent it from infecting cells, reduce mortality by 20% in patients who have not yet produced antibodies naturally.
“About half of the patients arrive at [en] occur, one week after infection. They don’t need these artificial antibodies. But for those who do not yet have antibodies against the virus, this treatment is very useful ”, summarizes Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom). Co-director of the Recovery trial, he says that although experts do not know why patients do not produce these antibodies, they are “often older, with less effective immune systems and that is precisely [eux] who die the most from Covid-19, with a death rate twice as high ”. Among them, mortality fell from 30% (untreated) to 24% (treated) thanks to monoclonal antibodies and the hospital stay fell from 17 to 13 days.
Peter Horby estimates that it will be necessary to wait at least a month for REGEN-COV to be accessible, the time for its validation by health agencies to set up its production. But despite this step forward, he reminds us that the battle is not won and that the development of other treatments is still vital. “We are still missing something essential in our arsenal against this virus, an antiviral treatment easy to administer and inexpensive that can be produced easily, because these monoclonal antibodies are still very expensive,” he concludes.