The World Health Organisation, based on a study in The BMJ, finds that combining two antibody treatments could help immunocompromised people
The new guideline suggests that two specific groups of patients would benefit from antibody treatment, which is generally understood to be less helpful than the COVID vaccine in the general population.
The antibody treatment is a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab. In the beginning of the pandemic, antibodies were considered the only way to survive severe COVID – with every individual creating differing levels of antibodies in response to infection.
Who could benefit from this antibody treatment?
Firstly, patients with non-severe COVID-19 who are at highest risk of hospitalisation. Secondly, those with severe or critical COVID who are seronegative, meaning they have not been able to create their own antibody response to the virus at all. The second group can also be considered immunocompromised.
The WHO further said: “The recommendations should provide a stimulus to engage all possible mechanisms to improve global access to the intervention and associated testing.”
However, the WHO further point out that similarly to the vaccine itself, there will be real problems for some countries in attempting to access and run this treatment. Countries in the Global South face several cost and resource issues. This is because rapid serological tests will be needed to identify eligible patients who are severely ill, treatment must be given intravenously using specialist equipment, and patients should be monitored for allergic reactions.
Currently, many countries are unable to vaccinate their full populations. The WHO, earlier this summer, asked richer countries to hold off on giving third doses to their populations – as other countries are still waiting for vaccine supply.
A report by the Institute for Government and Wellcome Trust, collating the perspectives of several medical experts, said that the Global South is still waiting to face the “deadliest stage of the pandemic” – as it lacks access to COVID vaccines. Some countries are yet to hit 1% vaccinated, as they are effectively banned from creating their own generic vaccines due to intellectual property laws.
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