Treatments based on monoclonal antibodies have proven ineffective against the new dominant variants of SARS-CoV-2, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned on Friday, according to AFP.

Monoclonal antibodies are no longer effective in new strains of coronavirus PHOTO Shutterstock

The numerous treatments based on monoclonal antibodies, administered in hospitals by injection or infusion and targeting the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, have contributed to the management of the most severe periods of the pandemic, Agerpres announces.

But, according to the EMA, they “no longer seem as effective against the new variants” of the virus. Laboratory tests demonstrated that treatments based on monoclonal antibodies proved “less effective in the context of Omicron variants BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2 and XBB”, the European agency based in Amsterdam emphasized in a statement .

“At the same time, they no longer manage to neutralize in a significant way (variants) BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, which are to become dominant strains on the territory of the European Union in the coming weeks”, said the EMA representatives.

The main antibody-based treatments are Evusheld – produced by AstraZeneca -, Ronapreve – produced by Roche – and Xevudy – produced by GSK and Vir laboratories. Antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid, produced by Pfizer laboratories, should instead remain effective, the EMA predicts.

They reduced hospitalizations by 80%, in the first phase

Monoclonal antibodies initially succeeded in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death by 80%, but became less effective as the SARS-CoV-2 virus developed mutations.

In September, the WHO recommended stopping the use of Xevudy and Ronapreve, estimating that they are no longer effective against new variants of the virus. In September and October, the EMA authorized the administration of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines against BA.4 and BA.5 variants to people who have already received a first dose.

The European agency stated on Tuesday that the two vaccines will be able to be “used for primary vaccination” from now on. Although the previous Alpha and Delta variants eventually died out, Omicron and its sub-variants dominated throughout 2022 and are predicted to continue to spread in 2023.

Subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have mainly contributed to an increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Europe and the United States over the past months. All types of Omicron tend to trigger a slower progression of the disease, as the virus settles less in the lungs and more in the upper airways, causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue and loss of smell.

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