Vietnam to import Covid-19 antibody drug Evusheld

By Thu Anh, Thuc Linh   March 10, 2022 | 05:30 am PT
Vietnam to import Covid-19 antibody drug Evusheld
A box of Covid-19 antibody drug Evusheld. Photo by AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand
The Ministry of Health has green lighted the import of Evusheld, a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies developed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.

The information was confirmed to VnExpress Thursday by a representative of the ministry’s Drug Administration Department.

The drug is said to have preventive properties and is meant for people who have not contracted Covid-19.

Apart from the manufacturer's statement, there have not been many studies on the drug's clinical efficacy,

AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, had announced last August that Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting antibodies obtained from Covid-19 recoveries, tixagevimab and cilgavimab. It had said that the drug had demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 in the third-stage trial.

A six-month analysis had found that efficacy of the drug was 83 percent compared to placebo, it said last November.

The first shipment of Evusheld to Vietnam is expected to arrive at the end of this month.

The shipment is made on the basis of a contract for 20,000 doses signed with AstraZeneca by the Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company (VNVC) on November 2, 2021.

In Vietnam, the drug, which must be preserved at minus 2-8 degrees Celsius, will be used at two hospitals: Tam Anh Hanoi and Tam Anh Ho Chi Minh City.

The prescribed two does are given at one time and the preventive effect is said to last six months.

Tran Quang Binh, chief medical director at Tam Anh General Hospital in HCMC, said Evusheld "is to protect those who cannot get the Covid-19 vaccine or have not generated enough antibodies after being fully vaccinated."

He said the hospital will charge VND19 million ($840) for administering the drug, including administration of two doses and health checks before and after.

Evusheld has been approved by the U.S. and Australia for emergency use to prevent Covid-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the license for Evusheld for pre-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19 in adults and adolescents from 12 with moderate to severe immune compromises due to a medical condition or immunosuppressive medications and who may not mount an adequate immune response to Covid-19 vaccination, as well as those individuals for whom Covid-19 vaccination is not recommended.

A report on the AstraZeneca website quotes Myron J. Levin, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine in the U.S. and principal investigator on the last-stage trial of the drug, as saying: "Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world remain at serious risk for Covid-19 because their immune systems do not generate a sufficient immune response, even after receiving all recommended doses of vaccine. Evusheld is an easily administered new option that provides long-lasting protection that could help them return to their everyday lives."

Ngo Quy Chau, chairman of the Vietnam Respiratory Association, said after receiving Covid-19 vaccines, the body usually recognizes the antigens contained in the vaccine and then produces them on its own, which is known as active immunity. However, some people are immune-compromised and their body does not produce enough antibodies. Evusheld can be used in such cases, Chau said.

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