Antibody cocktail for Covid emerges as ray of hope

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NEW DELHI: A month after an antibody cocktail was approved for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 in high-risk patients in India, some leading private hospitals in the country have said that they have achieved remarkable results with its usage so far.

This therapy, due to its exorbitant cost and very complex manufacturing process, however, is likely to remain a niche product and not a widely used tool in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. Of late, some monoclonal antibodies have been specifically designed to target the spike protein of the Covid virus — they do not let the virus attach itself and enter into the human cells.

In early February this year, the US drug regulator issued an emergency use authorization for monoclonal antibodies — bamlanivimab and etesevimab — months after the then US president Donald Trump was treated with the therapy while being infected with the Covid virus.

The antibody cocktail needs to be used only for patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 who are at high risk for progressing to severe Covid-19, such as those with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, chronic kidney, liver or lung problems and cancers or those above 65 years.

The therapy, though, cannot be used in patients who develop hypoxia or are in need of hospitalization.

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