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Omicron Variant - Trending

Omicron Variant trending details picture Omicron Variant
Posted by Temmy Mon, December 20, 2021 5:00pm
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Omicron Variant

Omicron Variant Puts COVID-19 Antibody Treatments in Focus

Omicron Variant Puts COVID-19 Antibody Treatments in Focus

The rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus has put both the efficacy of vaccines and antibody treatments under the spotlight.

While a booster dose for vaccines is the new norm, data has been mixed for antibody treatments which have shown potential against the deadly Delta variant.

Last week, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals REGN announced that its currently authorized REGEN-COV antibodies have diminished potency versus Omicron, but are active against the Delta variant, the most prevalent variant in the United States. Shares of the company declined on the same.

REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies currently authorized for emergency use in the United States for the treatment and post-exposure prophylaxis in certain high-risk individuals. Sales of this cocktail have been stupendous on increased demand and have significantly boosted the top line. However, with Omicron gaining steam rapidly, the diminished potency against the same does not bode well for Regeneron.

On the other hand, AstraZeneca AZN announced that Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab), a long-acting antibody combination for the prevention of COVID-19, retained neutralizing activity against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant, per new preclinical data.

We note that Evusheld (formerly known as AZD7442) recently received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States. It has been granted EUA for pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) of COVID-19 in people with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or immunosuppressive medications and who may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, as well as those individuals for who COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended.

Additional analyses to evaluate Evusheld against the Omicron variant are being conducted by AstraZeneca.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Pharma/biotech companies worldwide are evaluating every arsenal in their armory to combat the ongoing pandemic, but the rising variants have become a cause of concern.

Meanwhile, shares of Vir Biotechnology VIR surged last week after the company and partner GlaxoSmithKline GSK announced that preclinical data showed that sotrovimab retains activity against the Omicron variant and all other currently tested variants of concern and interest.

Vir announced new preclinical data, demonstrating the impact of the significant antigenic shift of the new Omicron variant. A significant reduction in plasma neutralizing activity was observed against Omicron in sera from vaccinated and convalescent individuals. In vitro neutralizing activity of 44 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) (eight of which are currently authorized or approved) were also tested. Data showed that sotrovimab and five other preclinical mAbs retained their in vitro neutralizing activity against Omicron.

However, as the data is mostly preclinical, anything conclusive becomes difficult.

Vir and Glaxo recently announced that European Commission has granted marketing authorization to sotrovimab for the early treatment of COVID-19 under the brand name Xevudy.

While Glaxo currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), Regeneron and Vir have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). AstraZeneca carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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