Skip to main content

Glaxo-Vir Antibody Drug Appears Effective vs. Omicron, Cleared by UK

GlaxoSmithKline says its antibody drug was 'deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind.'
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

A drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline  (GSK) - Get GlaxoSmithKline Plc Report and Vir Biotechnology  (VIR) - Get Vir Biotechnology, Inc. Report that appears to be effective against the Omicron Covid variant has been approved by U.K. regulators.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said Thursday that it was giving the green light to sotrovimab, the Independent reported.

The agency recommended using the drug as soon as possible and within five days of the onset of symptoms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the drug in May.

Shares of U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline were up 0.3% to $41.50 at last check, while San Francisco-based Vir was down slightly to $46.76.

GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement that lab tests and a study on hamsters have demonstrated the sotrovimab antibody cocktail works against viruses that were bioengineered to carry a number of hallmark mutations of the Omicron variant.

"To date, sotrovimab has demonstrated ongoing activity against all tested variants of concern and interest defined by the World Health Organization," the company said.

The tests are continuing to confirm the results against all of the omicron mutations, with an update expected by the end of the year,

TheStreet Recommends

"Sotrovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind," Vir Chief Executive George Scangos said. "By targeting a highly conserved region of the spike protein that is less likely to mutate, we hoped to address both the current SARS-CoV-2 virus and future variants that we expected would be inevitable."

Last month, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir signed U.S. government contracts valued at about $1 billion for a Covid-19 treatment.

The omicron is believed to be more contagious than previous strains and could cause more than half of all Covid infections in Europe in coming months, the European Union health agency ECDC said on Thursday.

Stocks were battered on Wednesday after the first confirmed case of the variant was reported in the U.S.

The individual, who is currently in San Francisco Bay Area, traveled from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive for the virus on Nov. 29, Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

India on Thursday confirmed its first cases of the omicron Covid-19 variant in two men who returned from international travel. 

Sotrovimab is based on monoclonal antibodies, which are lab-made versions of the natural antibodies the body generates to fight off an infection. 

Similar products are offered or being developed by Eli Lilly  (LLY) - Get Eli Lilly and Company Report, Regeneron  (REGN) - Get Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report and AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report.