The treatment is designed to use monoclonal antibodies programmed to mimic the actions of those antibodies created by individuals who have fought, and beaten, the virus naturally. The aim of the treatment is to help to protect elderly and vulnerable individuals where either natural immunity could be low (elderly people naturally making less antibodies than younger individuals) or there is no immunity at all (because they have yet to be exposed to COVID-19). The protection comes from two specific monoclonal antibodies being delivered in vitro to the patient via an IV infusion. The antibodies then attach to the coronavirus's spike proteins, with the intention of inhibiting the virus's capacity to infect healthy cells.
If this first round of trials shows a positive result on producing immunity to the virus, the treatment will be rolled out to a larger cohort for more extensive scrutiny. In turn, if the wider trials are shown to prove successful, given the developments in production of these types of antibodies, it is hoped that wide-scale production and patient delivery could be in place sooner rather than later. The concern with this will be around the cost of such an innovative form of therapy and therefore whether this should be reserved for the most severe, or at risk patients, only where the result can justify the costs.
AstraZeneca has shown itself to be a real trailblazer in the fight against COVID-19. This most recent announcement comes off the back of its hopes to start manufacturing millions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, as a result of its collaboration with the University of Oxford. This further highlights the phenomenal effort of the pharma sector in coming together to fight back fast against the global pandemic.