There's Evidence This Treatment Is Effective Against The COVID-19 Omicron Variant

As questions circulate about what differences the new Omicron variant could make for those who contract COVID-19, and whether the available vaccines and treatments will work against it, there are reasons to be hopeful. British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), together with U.S. partner VIR Biotechnology, have produced a monoclonal antibody treatment that early data shows is effective against Omicron, as well as all other known variants (via Reuters). The treatment, sotrovimab, has already been approved by UK regulatory authorities.

Monoclonal antibodies have been in use for months and have proven to be very effective in protecting against severe COVID-19. Research suggests that they can reduce hospitalization and deaths by around 70% in high-risk patients (via the Infectious Diseases Society of America). The treatments consist of lab-made copies of natural antibodies, which are taken from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

"There are people who survive COVID, who have great antibodies," Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, explained to MSN. "We can identify that in the lab, copy those, and then infuse them into people. And almost instantaneously, that person now has antibodies that are extremely well-suited for fighting COVID-19."

Monoclonal antibodies are effective against COVID-19

Omicron has a high number of spike protein mutations — with 37 identified so far — which raises concerns about how well current vaccines or treatments will work against it. The difference in GSK's new treatment is that it was specifically designed to deal with those variables. VIR Chief Executive George Scangos explained to Reuters that "Sotrovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind."

Early data based on lab tests and tests on hamsters show that it seems to work. "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," GSK Chief Scientific Officer Hal Barron told Reuters.

"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," said Dr. June Raine, chief executive of the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (via Yahoo! News).