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U.K. Covid Trial Starts Testing Regeneron Drug

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 9/14/2020 Suzi Ring
a group of people standing in front of a building: People stand in line to enter a bar in Manchester, on Sept. 12. © Bloomberg People stand in line to enter a bar in Manchester, on Sept. 12.

(Bloomberg) --

U.K. researchers will start testing an antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a key trial of possible Covid-19 treatments, as the infection rate in Britain surges again.

The drug will be given to hospitalized patients in the Recovery trial and assessed for all-cause mortality against those receiving the usual standard of care, Regeneron and the University of Oxford, which is running the trial, said in a statement Monday. The researchers will also look at length of hospital stay and need for ventilation. At least 2,000 people are expected to receive the cocktail.

The Recovery trial, which has enrolled more than 12,350 people across 176 hospital sites in Britain, has been a key study during the pandemic. In June, investigators discovered the first drug to improve survival from Covid-19 -- dexamethasone -- which reduced deaths by one-third among coronavirus patients on mechanical ventilation. Researchers are also looking at whether an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory or convalescent plasma can improve treatment and survival.

a group of people standing in front of a building: People stand in line to enter a bar in Manchester, on Sept. 12. © Bloomberg People stand in line to enter a bar in Manchester, on Sept. 12.

The Regeneron drug is also being tested in three other Covid-19 trials, two as a treatment and one for the prevention of the disease spreading to household contacts of infected individuals. A monoclonal antibody made by Regeneron was also the most successful drug for treating the Ebola virus.


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Monoclonal antibodies “are very promising drugs,” Peter Horby, who is leading the trial, said in an interview. “They clearly can have an impact in acute, severe viral diseases, so we’re quite excited about that.”

Infections Surge

The possible treatment comes at a key moment for the U.K. after cases soared in the past few weeks. On Sunday, 3,330 new infections were reported, taking the total number of positive tests to 368,504, according to government data.

The increase may mean the Recovery trial can provide answers more quickly as to the effectiveness of treatments. Earlier this year, researchers enrolled more than 400 people in one day, with that number falling to about five a day across the summer, according to Horby.

The Recovery trial, which was originally planned to run until fall 2021, looks set to be extended for about another two years, Horby said. Investigators may next look at a comparison of anti-coagulant therapies due to the number of blood-clotting-related ailments being seen in Covid-19 patients, he said.

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