AstraZeneca COVID Drug Neutralizes Omicron in Lab Study

By Reuters Staff

March 22, 2022

(Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Monday its antibody-based cocktail to prevent and treat COVID-19 retained neutralising activity against Omicron coronavirus sublineages, including the highly contagious BA.2, in an independent lab study.

This is the first data looking at the impact of AstraZeneca's Evusheld (tixagevimab/cilgavimab)treatment on sibling and descendant lineages of the Omicron variant following a recent global spike in cases. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said in December that another lab study found that Evusheld retained neutralising activity against the BA.1 version of Omicron, which was the first to spread internationally late last year.

Three lineages, or versions, of the Omicron variant were identified at roughly the same time in South Africa last November - BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3 - although only BA.1 and BA.2 have gone on to cause global outbreaks.

Data from the latest study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, showed the therapy reduced the viral load of all tested Omicron sublineages in mice lungs, AstraZeneca said in a statement. The study, published on, has yet to be peer reviewed.

Evusheld was tested against the BA.1, BA.1.1, and BA.2 sublineages of Omicron and it was also shown in the study to limit inflammation in the lungs - a critical symptom in severe COVID-19 infections.

"The findings further support Evusheld as a potential important option to help protect vulnerable patients such as the immunocompromised who could face poor outcomes if they were to become infected with COVID-19," John Perez, head of Late Development, Vaccines & Immune Therapies at AstraZeneca, said.

Last week the World Health Organization said figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem, as the Omicron lineages spread amid the easing of restrictions and testing.

Evusheld was found to cut the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 77% in trials, Britain's drug regulator said last week, after approving the therapy for preventing infections in adults with poor immune response.

Evusheld has also been shown to save lives and prevent disease progression when given within a week of first symptoms.

The therapy is currently under a European review. It has already been authorised in the United States.

SOURCE: bioRxiv, online March 18, 2022.