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GlaxoSmithKline, Vir Biotechnology Say COVID Therapy Effective Against Omicron Variant

GlaxoSmithKline and its U.S. partner, Vir Biotechnology, said Tuesday that their COVID antibody is effective against all mutations of the new Omicron variant.

GlaxoSmithKline  (GSK) - Get GlaxoSmithKline Plc Report and its U.S. partner Vir Biotechnology  (VIR) - Get Vir Biotechnology, Inc. Report said Tuesday that their COVID antiviral is effective against all mutations of the Omicron variant, sending shares in the San Francisco-based drugmaker sharply higher in pre-market trading.

The pair said their COVID treatment, known as 'sotrovimab' -- which was approved for use in the United Kingdom earlier this month -- was found to have worked against the 37 different mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant in data published from a recently-completed study.

GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Bio also noted that sotrovimab retained its 'in vitro activity' against key individual mutations of the Omicron variant, based on what it called initial preclinical data generated through "pseudo-virus testing".

“Sotrovimab is the first monoclonal antibody to report preclinical data demonstrating activity against all tested SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and interest to date, including Omicron, as well as the still prevalent and highly contagious Delta variant," said CEO George Scangos. 

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"Given the less than three-fold neutralization shift demonstrated in the pre-clinical pseudo-virus assay, we are confident that sotrovimab will continue to provide significant benefit for the early treatment of patients hoping to avoid the most severe consequences of COVID-19.”

Vir Bio shares were marked 9.75% higher in pre-market trading Tuesday to indicate an opening bell price of $42.. each. GlaxoSmithKline's U.S.-listed shares edged 0.8% higher to $42.10 each.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it has identified 432 cases of the Omicron variant, over its 21 member states, as of December 6, adding that there isn't enough data as yet to determine if the variant will be more or less transmissible -- or indeed severe -- than previous mutations.