AstraZeneca is delighted with a very successful clinical trial for a treatment that would curb infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. However, there is not yet an accessible scientific publication. Here’s what you need to know about this protocol.
During the year 2021, the great medical challenge against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will have been vaccination. While vaccines are used to ward off infections or, even more so, to limit severe forms of the disease, prophylactic treatments – drugs – could also help treat people who develop an infection, or even prevent it. This may therefore particularly concern immunocompromised people, for example, in whom the vaccine is not sufficient to boost immune protection.
Research in this area is well and truly advancing. AstraZeneca, which has mostly been heard about for the development of its vaccine, is currently conducting phase 3 clinical trials on a drug against covid. In a communicated published on October 11, 2021, the company is pleased with the results.
What do we know today about this drug?
Efficiency ranges from 50 to 67%
The drug in question is called AZD7442. The protocol consists of a dose of 600 mg, administered by intramuscular injection. AZD7442 is a combination of two compounds (tixagevimab and cilgavimab) that block the binding of the coronavirus to human cells, and this is what is believed to slow or stop the progression of the infection because the infectious agent does not can no longer recur.
The clinical trial, designated TACKLE, involves 903 people. They are “randomized” into two arms (groups): one arm associated with the drug, another which sticks to a placebo. The goal being to treat forms of the disease that can become severe, 90% of participants come from populations with comorbidities or any medical condition that can cause a serious turn in the event of covid.
In its press release, AstraZeneca says the study’s primary endpoint has been met. This means that the goal – the intended benefit – is successfully accomplished according to the research team. In this case, it seems that taking the drug early enough after infection reduces the risk of severe forms and death.
Of the 407 people who took the drug within 7 days of symptom onset, 18 developed severe disease or died. Of the 415 people who received a placebo, 37 contracted a severe version of the disease. The risk is reduced by 50%.
In both groups, scientists studied the effects of the drug when taken a little earlier, a maximum of 5 days after symptoms. The effect then seems even more significant, because the risk is reduced by 67%: 9 people out of the 253 included in this specific protocol had a severe form, against 27 out of 251 in the placebo arm.
As for side effects, the press release simply notes that the drug is ” well tolerated ”And does not mention any significant problematic event in the matter.
A drug to prevent and cure covid?
These results follow a previous statement from AstraZeneca, in which the company said that a clinical trial on this protocol prevents the development of significant forms of the disease in people at risk. The preventive capacity of the drug was 77%. This suggests, with the new results, that AZD7442 may both help prevent the disease and allow it to be cured.
The problem with these two conclusions: they are not yet the subject of a scientific publication. The studies are not published in journals, but there is also no preprint, that is, pre-publication, accessible. It is therefore not possible today to consult the method and the results. This implies caution: AstraZeneca’s press releases have yet to prove their worth.
But the company specifies that it has submitted the studies for publication, so it could not be long. In addition, AstraZeneca has submitted its data to the FDA, the US drug administration, to obtain approval for the use of AZD7442 as a treatment to cure symptoms of the disease.