A new drug has been shown to work against all mutations of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Research has revealed the drug, called sotrovimab, is effective against the 37 known strains of Omicron and could be used for effective antibody treatment.
Developed through a partnership between UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and US-based firm Vir Biotechnology, the drug has already been approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Trials of sotrovimab showed it cut the chance of hospitalisation and death in patients with mild to moderate Covid symptoms by 79 per cent.
Sotrovimab, sold under the brand name Xevudy, is used to stop people developing severe Covid cases and is useful for people with suppressed immune systems.
It gives the body Covid antibodies to fight the illness while antivirals interfere with how the virus reproduces.
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: ‘This is yet another therapeutic that has been shown to be effective at protecting those most vulnerable to Covid-19, and signals another significant step forward in our fight against this devastating disease.’
The government has already ordered around 100,000 doses.
Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of R&D at GSK said: ‘From the outset of our collaboration with Vir we hypothesized that sotrovimab would have a high barrier to resistance and thus could deliver best-in-class potential for the early treatment of patients with Covid-19.
‘These pre-clinical data demonstrate the potential for our monoclonal antibody to be effective against the latest variant, Omicron, plus all other variants of concern defined to date by the WHO, and we look forward to discussing these results with regulatory authorities around the world.’
There are currently 437 confirmed cases of the Omicron strain in the UK – 101 of which were reported on Tuesday.
But the real number is likely to be higher, as it takes several days for genetic sequencing to be completed.
Early analysis by the Government’s Sage committee of scientific advisers suggests Omicron cases are doubling every three days, with over 1,000 new infections each day.
The MHRA authorisation of Sotrovimab means there are now two approved antibody treatments for Omicron in the UK.
Scientists will be hoping the treatment can help in the face of current uncertainty over how well the existing Covid-19 vaccines can protect against Omicron.