UK regulator approves ‘first of its kind’ Covid antibody treatment


The antibody cocktail used to treat Donald Trump for Covid has been approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, becoming the first treatment in Britain using artificial antibodies to tackle the virus.

The drug, developed by the US biotech company Regeneron, has received the backing of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Clinical trials showed it helped to prevent Covid infection as well as to reduce the risk of hospitalisation or symptoms in severe cases, when given soon after exposure.

Known as Ronapreve, it is the first artificial antibody drug of its type to be approved in the UK, which was hailed by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, as “fantastic news”. Javid said he hoped it could be available for NHS patients as soon as possible.

The drug is likely to aid those most at risk of having to go to hospital or who are less likely to be protected by current vaccines, as well as potentially tackling outbreaks in care homes and prisons. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for vaccination, the MHRA says.

The treatment – produced by Regeneron and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche – uses artificial monoclonal antibodies that mimic natural antibodies produced by bodies to ward off infections.