AstraZeneca expands planned US supply of Covid antibody drug

London, March 16 (AFP/APP): British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca, whose Covid vaccine faces safety doubts in some European countries, announced Tuesday that it will supply the US with up to 700,000 doses of a possible antibody treatment.

The company said in a statement that it has signed a deal with the US government’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense for an extra 500,000 doses of its potential Covid-19 antibody drug AZD7442.

The announcement takes AstraZeneca’s total planned US supplies to 700,000 doses, it added in a statement. The combined value, for the development and supply of the antibody drug in 2021, is about $726 million (608 million euros), it added. AZD7442 is a combination of two antibodies and is currently in late-stage development for the prevention and treatment of Covid.

“The long-acting antibody combination has the potential to offer almost immediate protection to those who are not able to be vaccinated, to both prevent infection or treat the disease in patients already infected with the virus,” said AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot.

“The US government’s support is critical in helping accelerate the development of AZD7442, which we believe will be an important tool in the fight against Covid-19.” The US government funded the development of AZD7442, which is currently in trials with more than 9,000 participants worldwide.

Tuesday’s news comes as the rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has been suspended in several European countries over blood clot fears. The World Health Organization, AstraZeneca, and the European Medicines Agency have insisted the shot is safe, and that there is no link between the vaccine and reported blood clots.

However, the three largest EU nations — Germany, Italy and France — joined others in suspending the shot Monday, dealing a blow to the global immunisation campaign against a disease that has so far killed more than 2.6 million people.

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