'Monoclonal therapy can 100% tackle severity of Delta variant'

Delta Covid infection, which can progress to ICU admissions and death, can be stopped in its tracks by monoclonal antibody therapy, claims a new study

Photo courtesy: IANS
Photo courtesy: IANS


Delta Covid infection, which can progress to ICU admissions and death, can be stopped in its tracks by monoclonal antibody therapy, claims a new study.

Developed by Swiss Drug major Roche, Casirivimab-Imdevimab injection is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies and was designed specifically to block infectivity of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

"Monoclonal antibody therapy is 100 per cent able to halt the progress of the Delta Covid variant in a patient and reduce the need for ICU admissions and death," Dr D Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman, AIG Hospitals, Hyderabad, told IANS.

For the first time in the world, the study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, analysed the efficacy of the drug cocktail on the Delta Covid variant. Previous studies were focussed on the cocktail therapy's effect on the original Wuhan strain, and a placebo was used as control, Reddy said.

The team from AIG Hospitals assigned 285 patients to a treatment of monoclonal antibody and standard of care treatment (remidiviser/anticoagulants and necessary SOS steroid). More than 98 per cent samples tested were identified as the Delta variant.

"Among those treated with the cocktail drug therapy, the virus 'disappeared' in 78 per cent of cases in a week's time, while by the end of the second week, 100 per cent cases were totally free of symptoms. On the other hand, people who received the standard care of treatment 20 per cent progressed to more severe disease, or ICU," Redddy added.

The results showed that the neutralising activity of the monoclonal therapy was similar in both the original Wuhan and the Delta strain.

About 75 per cent of patients who got the monoclonal therapy became RT-PCR negative by the seventh day and 78 per cent of patients got relief from their clinical symptoms like fever, cough, etc by the seventh day. None of the study participants developed severe disease or died. There was also no increase in inflammatory markers, which causes severe disease, in these patients

The treatment was also effective against post-Covid symptoms, Reddy said.

"None of the people with cocktails developed long Covid, compared to those who received standard therapy (20-30 per cent experienced post-Covid symptoms)," he noted.

The cocktail therapy shot to fame after it was used to treat then US President Donald Trump last October. It was approved by the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) in May for use in India.

However, it did not receive much uptake among Covid patients. High cost has been the primary reason. The price for each patient dose (a combined dose of 1200 mg (600 mg of Casirivimab and 600 mg of Imdevimab)) in India is Rs 59,750.

"If we look at the cost of hospitalisation due to Covid in India along with the number of people living with diabetes, hypertension etc., the cost factor of the monoclonal therapy is quite considerable, given the fact that now we know it prevents deaths and severe disease by 100 per cent," Reddy said.

"However, it shouldn't be used unnecessarily on people", Reddy told IANS.

The therapy should be used only among "those above 65 years, with a Body Mass Index higher than 35, diabetics, chronic kidney disease patients, immunosuppressed individuals.

"It can also be used among people below 55, if they are patients of hypertension, chronic lung disease; and even in children aged below 12 years, and having a BMI higher than 35," Reddy said.

"The results are astonishing and will shape the public health policy for treatment of Covid-19 especially in high-risk individuals, those above the age of 60 or even below 60 but with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, all will benefit immensely. We have clearly demonstrated in our research that when given at the right time, monoclonal therapy stops the progression of the disease completely," Reddy added.

The study also included researchers from the Asian Healthcare Foundation, CCMB Hyderabad and Institute of Life Sciences.

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