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expert reaction to press release from Vir Biotechnology and GSK announcing results of their VIR-7831 antibody drug looking at hospitalisations and deaths with COVID-19

Vir Biotechnology and GSK have published a press release stating that their monoclonal antibody drug VIR-7831 reduces hospitalisation and risk of death in early treatment of adults with COVID-19.


Dr Alexander Edwards, Associate Professor in Biomedical Technology, Reading School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, said:

“As usual with press release clinical trial outcomes, we need to see the full data set when the trial has been completely analysed to really understand how well the experimental medicine works and to unpick the trial findings.  For example, who can it treat, when must they be given the drug, how does it prevent the worst outcomes?  The early reporting of the trial often means a drug is working so well that benefits are obvious earlier than expected.  The headline reported success of VIR-7831 is spectacular and this new medicine would complement vaccines and other new treatments to make major reductions to the terrible impact of COVID-19.

“This class of drug could be especially important for those people who are less protected by vaccines for example if their immune system is weakened (as recently discussed for some cancer patients) – we can supplement their own immunity with this “extra” antibody against the virus.

“One reason this is so exciting is that it may herald a “breakthrough” for this class of medicines – monoclonal antibody treatment of viral infection.  Monoclonal antibody drugs provide ‘artificial immunity’ by manufacturing antibodies in a bioreactor.  In contrast vaccines trigger your body to make your own antibodies (and other immune responses).  Monoclonal antibody drugs have been most widely used to treat cancer and autoimmunity, but have always had enormous potential to directly combat an infection.  If the headline 85% reduction in hospitalisation or death translates into widespread use, this will deliver on the great promise of monoclonal antibodies to treat infections.  Many other antibodies are being developed against COVID-19 and other important infections, and further investment spurred by this success should help us understand how to best use this additional tool for global health.”



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



Declared interests

Dr Alexander Edwards: “No conflicts.”

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