China grants emergency approval for its first Covid drug

This photo taken on December 8, 2021 shows a health worker taking a sample from a visitor to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus at the Global Smart Manufacturing Conference in Nanjing, China’s Jiangsu Province, China. is. AFP PHOTO / CHINA OUTPUT

BEIJING: The Chinese pharmaceutical authority has granted emergency approval for the country’s first specialized treatment for Covid-19, found in clinical trials to dramatically reduce hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients.

The move comes as regulators around the world give the green light to treatments – especially for high-risk groups – amid concerns over the new Omicron variant.

China is also grappling with a growing number of studies showing that its vaccines have lower efficacy rates than many overseas-made vaccines.

In an official notice released on Wednesday, China’s National Medicines Administration said it had granted “emergency approval” for treatment with monoclonal antibodies.

A monoclonal antibody is a type of protein that attaches to the coronavirus spike protein, reducing its ability to enter cells in the body.

The treatment involves a combination of two drugs, given by injections, and can be used to treat certain cases that are likely to progress in severity, the pharmaceutical authority said.

It was co-developed by Tsinghua University, Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital and Brii Biosciences.

Data from the trials showed that the combination therapy could reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients by about 80%, Tsinghua University said in a statement on social media Wednesday evening.

A state media report last month added that the treatment had also been used on patients infected during local outbreaks.

China is the latest to approve similar treatments for Covid-19, with UK regulators also clearing antibody treatment last week.

EU health authorities have also approved pills for emergency use – involving antiviral drugs that slow the disease by reducing the ability of the virus to reproduce in the body.

While the pills are easier to use, the most effective treatment for Covid currently involves monoclonal antibodies, which are given via a drip.

China also has several conditionally approved vaccines, but their published efficacy rates lag behind rival vaccines developed in other countries.

A study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong published last month found that people inoculated with the BioNTech vaccine had significantly higher antibody levels than Chinese Sinovac, adding to two other studies in Hong Kong and on the continent which produced similar data.

The study found that the response of T lymphocytes – the white blood cells that remember how to fight disease – remained strong in Sinovac patients.

Hong Kong has started calling on residents who have been vaccinated with Sinovac to take a third booster to increase their level of protection.

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