The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recommended, Friday, September 24, a third treatment against Covid-19. These are the synthetic antibodies from the biotechnology company Regeneron, but only in certain specific cases. Separately, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that it would vote on the third dose in early October. Finally, in Cuba, a local vaccine for convalescents from Covid-19, Soberana Plus, has been approved.
The Covid-19 pandemic has killed at least 4.7 million people worldwide since the end of December 2019, according to a report established Thursday by Agence France-Presse (AFP) from official sources. The WHO estimates, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, that the toll of the pandemic could be two to three times higher than that calculated from official figures (i.e. 9 to 14 million deaths).
WHO recommends Regeneron treatment
According to an opinion from WHO experts published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Regeneron treatment is recommended on the one hand at “Patients with non-severe forms of Covid-19 who are at high risk of hospitalization”, such as the elderly or those with weakened immune systems (such as cancer or after an organ transplant).
On the other hand, treatment is recommended in patients with“A severe or critical form and who are seronegative, that is to say who have not developed their own antibody response” despite the infection. “For all other types of patients with Covid-19, the benefits of this antibody treatment are unlikely to be significant”, can we read in the review BMJ. “Given the high cost and low availability of this treatment, [l’agence internationale d’achat de médicaments] Unitaid is negotiating with the Roche laboratory (…) to achieve lower prices and fair distribution across all regions, especially low and middle income countries ”, said the WHO in a statement.
Designed by Regeneron and marketed by the Roche laboratory under the name Ronapreve, this treatment combines two antibodies (called “monoclonal”) manufactured in the laboratory, casirivimab and imdevimab. When injected intravenously, they are supposed to support the immune system to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. This is only the third treatment for Covid-19 recommended by the WHO.
Third dose: decision of the European Medicines Agency in early October
The European Union agency responsible for the evaluation of medicines announced on Thursday whether or not it would give its approval at the beginning of October to a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine against Covid-19 for the population aged over 16. The AEM must at the same time decide on the booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the elderly and immunocompromised, said the head of the vaccine strategy of the AEM, Marco Cavaleri.
“The available data shows that the immunity against Covid-19 acquired with the first doses weakens over time, and the protection against the infection and its symptoms decreases in different parts of the world”, he continued. As a result, the AEM is in the process of assessing Pfizer’s demand for the use of a third dose at least six months after the second for the population over 16 years of age. “The result of this evaluation is expected at the beginning of October, unless more information is needed”, according to Cavaleri.
Cuba approves local vaccine for Covid-19 convalescents
The Cuban drug regulatory authority (Cecmed) on Thursday gave the authorization for emergency use of its locally developed Soberana Plus vaccine for convalescents from Covid-19 aged 19 and over. This vaccine will be administered in a single dose to patients recovering from the disease, “Two months or more after their recovery”, specified the Cecmed in a press release.
Soberana Plus had already been approved by Cecmed as a third dose of reinforcement after the first two doses of Soberana 2, another Cuban vaccine also authorized on the island. A third local vaccine, Abdala, has also been authorized.
Not recognized by the WHO, these vaccines are based on a recombinant protein – the American pharmaceutical company Novavax and the French Sanofi are also working on this technique. These vaccines are, according to Cuban scientists, more than 90% effective in preventing the onset of the disease with symptoms. Cuba began working with WHO experts last week to gain recognition for its vaccines, already purchased by Venezuela and Vietnam, and being produced in Iran.