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The Case for COVID-19 Antibody Therapies

Given the limitations of existing drugs and the uncertainty regarding vaccines, the world must also focus on developing new weapons to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Besides anti-viral chemical drugs, genetically engineered antibodies might be ideal for this purpose.

BRUSSELS/GENEVA – As many countries progressively relax their COVID-19 containment measures, preventing a renewed spread of the coronavirus from emerging infection clusters will be key to controlling the pandemic. And this will require the world to develop innovative new treatments.

So far, policymakers have relied on non-pharmaceutical interventions such as testing, contact tracing, and quarantines to prevent a second wave of infections. Meanwhile, the search for COVID-19 therapies and prophylactic medicines has focused on products that could be immediately available, meaning existing drugs that were developed to treat other conditions. This approach has been largely unsuccessful, although a recent randomized clinical trial in the United Kingdom revealed that the dexamethasone corticosteroid reduced COVID-19 mortality in the most severe cases.

Vaccines will of course be essential to overcoming COVID-19. But if and when they become available, it will still take many months to vaccinate enough people so that societies reach the level of collective immunity needed to halt the coronavirus. And the efficiency of any vaccine will likely vary depending on a person’s genetic background, associated diseases, and age. Furthermore, vaccine access and coverage might be limited by production capabilities, economic considerations, and anti-vaccine sentiment among the population.