THE first drug specifically designed to take on Covid has been approved in the UK.
It is hoped it will be rolled out for NHS patients “as soon as possible”, after the medicines regulator agreed the man-made antibodies treatment could be used.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid hailed the development as “fantastic news”.
Trials took place before widespread vaccination and before Covid variants emerged.
It is the first monoclonal antibody combination product approved for use in the prevention and treatment of severe illness from the virus for the UK.
Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.
The drug, developed by pharmaceutical firms Regeneron and Roche, is given either by injection or infusion.
It works by heading to the lining of the respiratory system – where it binds tightly to the virus and blocks it from breaking into the cells, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said.
Mr Javid said: “The UK is considered a world leader in identifying and rolling out life-saving treatments for Covid-19, once they have been proven safe and effective in our government-backed clinical trials.
“This is fantastic news from the independent medicines regulator and means the UK has approved its first therapeutic designed specifically for Covid-19.
“This treatment will be a significant addition to our armoury to tackle Covid-19 – in addition to our world-renowned vaccination programme and life-saving therapeutics dexamethasone and tocilizumab.
“We are now working at pace with the NHS and expert clinicians to ensure this treatment can be rolled out to NHS patients as soon as possible.”
MHRA interim chief quality and access officer Dr Samantha Atkinson said: “We are pleased to announce the approval of another therapeutic treatment that can be used to help save lives and protect against Covid-19.
“Ronapreve is the first of its kind for the treatment of Covid-19 and, after a meticulous assessment of the data by our expert scientists and clinicians, we are satisfied that this treatment is safe and effective.
“With no compromises on quality, safety and efficacy, the public can trust that the MHRA have conducted a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data.”
The regulator said the Government and NHS will confirm how the treatment will be deployed to patients in due course.
It comes as cases have stayed “stubbornly high”, with vaccine protection starting to drop among older Brits, an expert has warned yesterday.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Symptom Study App, said infections haven’t really fallen for the past two weeks.
The data, which comes from Brits logging daily symptoms, revealed about 43,000 new cases a day.
He said: “Daily cases of Covid remain stubbornly high but it’s reassuring to see that unlike in previous waves, these rates aren’t yet translating into high numbers of hospitalisations and deaths.
“However, seeing what is happening with increasing deaths in Israel [a rapid increase despite widespread vaccinations] we need to be vigilant.
“Whilst vaccines have helped to reduce the severity of the disease, this stalling in cases suggests that we’re starting to see the protection provided by vaccines waning, meaning more fully vaccinated people could be infected in the future.”
Source: The Sun