‘Antibody cocktail’ treatment for Covid-19 promising, say experts

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  With the antibody cocktail for the treatment of Covid-19 becoming available in India earlier this week, private hospitals in the national capital have started rolling out the therapy to patients. On Friday, the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals announced that Roche India’s antibody cocktail (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) distributed by Cipla is available for administration to patients with mild and moderate Covid-19 infection.

A 65-year-old man was the first to receive the antibody therapy and responded well, the hospital said. The antibody cocktail was given to then US President Donald Trump when he contracted Covid last year. In India, it is priced at Rs 59,750 per dose. Earlier, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute said that they have started offering the therapy from Thursday.

An 84-year-old man was the first in India to be given the monoclonal antibody therapy at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon on Tuesday. However, AIIMS is yet to procure the drug. “At AIIMS, most cases are critical ones and there is no point of providing the drug on such patients,” said an official on anonymity. “Antibodies are needed in the body to fight against any infection, whether its bacteria or virus… it is key to defense against such infection. Natural antibodies may take some time to develop.

There are some high risk groups and if the drug is given to them on time, further complications can be prevented. It is a promising therapy. However, the real world data needs to be seen,” said Dr Neeraj Nischal, Associate Professor in department of medicine, AIIMS Delhi. “Since the therapy has to be given in the early part, there is no way of knowing which case is going to be complicated except guessing those having high risk factors and complications.

But there are times when without risk factors become complicated. So, there is no clear demarcation as to who should be given the therapy. Critical patients are not going to benefit,” he added. “It’s an expensive drug. Indian companies may start building it up in advance in the next 2-3 months before a probable next wave. We need to act before the third wave comes and consider this drug for high risk groups who haven’t been vaccinated for various reasons,” said Dr Deepak Gupta, Professor of Neurosurgery, AIIMS Delhi.

He also emphasised that the therapy is to be given only to patients within the first week of diagnosis and only in mild-moderate cases– typically as an outpatient procedure. “This will also decrease workload on hospitals and may help in decreasing mortality and community spread,” he added. The antibody cocktail was launched on May 24 in India by Roche India after receiving emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO).

“The therapy is called antibody cocktail is because it comprises of a mixture of more than two biological drugs (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) that mirror the human antibodies in the immune system. This drug is said to restrict pathogens and viruses from entering the patient’s body, from where they otherwise would have derived nutrition and multiplied,” stated Dr Rajesh Chawla, Senior Pulmonologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. It can be administered for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in adults and paediatric patients (12 years of age or older, weighing at least 40 kg).



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