A new drug which has been designed to lower the risk of the most vulnerable patients from needing hospital treatment has been made available to the NHS from today.
The drug, named Sotrovimab, is antibody-based and will be administered to transplant recipients, cancer patients and other high-risk groups. It was approved for use in the UK for people aged 12 and over on 2nd December.
It has been made to be given quickly after symptoms begin to develop to stop the virus from causing major illness.
Prior tests have also shown that it should work against the Omicron variant which is currently surging across the country.
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The national medical director of NHS England, Prof Steven Powis, said: “These new drugs have an important role to play”
“If you test positive and are at high risk then we will be contacting you, and, if eligible, you will be able to get access to these new treatments.”
Up to this time, Covid treatment has been fixated on patients who have been in hospital with the virus, with treatment such as dexamethasone and Tocilizumab. However, with the introduction of this new drug, focus can also be turned to those patients at the earlier stages of infection as a means of preventing them from needing hospital admission.
It is suggested that following the clinical trials of Sotrovimab, designed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology, the new drug can decrease the risk of hospitalisation in high-risk patients by 79% with the makers saying that the drug “retains activity against key mutations of the new Omicron variant”.
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How the drug works is that it connects itself to the spike protein located on the outside of the virus, stopping it from inserting itself into the human cells so that it will not be able to replicate within the body.
Approximately 1.3 million of the most high-risk people across be UK will be eligible to receive the drug, alongside other new Covid treatments when they become accessible.
The Department of Health has ordered an initial 100,000 courses of the drug, though some commentators have suggested that this is a small amount for the potential requirements.
Sotrovimab comes after Ronapreve being the second antibody treatment for Covid to be approved by regulators within the UK.
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