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Coronavirus Explainers

COVID-19 Explainer: What Is Antibody Cocktail And How Does It Help In Coronavirus Treatment?

India’s Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation cleared the use of the antibody cocktail for use in emergency situations for treatment of COVID-19, here’s a quick lowdown on how it can help patients

COVID-19 Explainer: What Is Antibody Cocktail And How Does It Help In Coronavirus Treatment?

New Delhi: Mohabbat Singh, an 84-year-old man with multiple co-morbidities who beat COVID-19 has given a new hope in treating this disease that has so far claimed over 3 lakh lives in India. Mr Singh was discharged on May 26 from Medanta hospital after getting the jab of monoclonal antibody cocktail. He has become the first person in India to be administered the COVID drug cocktail, which came into the limelight after it was administered to former US President Donald Trump when he had tested COVID-19 positive last year in October.

Also Read: COVID-19 Explainer: All You Need To Know About Oxygen Concentrators

The antibody cocktail, from Switzerland-based drug-maker Roche, recently got approval from India’s Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation for use in emergency situations for treatment of COVID-19.  This FDA-approved therapy demonstrated good efficacy in Phase 1/2 and Phase 3 studies by reducing COVID-19 related hospitalisation and death by 70 per cent. According to the official announcements by Roche India and Cipla Limited, the first batch of the Roche antibody cocktail drug arrived in the country on Monday (May 24) and it has been launched at a price of Rs 59,750 per dose.

On Tuesday (May 25), Mr Singh, who was under treatment for the last five days at Medanta Hospital was given the drug over a 30-minute intravenous supply. Sharing the news of hope with netizens, a doctor at Medanta Hospital, Dr Satya Prakash Yadav, tweeted,

Finally monoclonal antibodies cocktail to treat COVID-19 IS available in market and today first patient to get it in Medanta is an 84-year-old gentleman with COVID-19. Let’s hope it helps cure more patients with COVID-19.

What Is Antibody Cocktail And How Does It Help In COVID Treatment?

Talking about the drug, V Simpson Emmanuel, Managing Director and CEO Roche Pharma India said,

These are combination of two antibodies – Casirivimab and Imdevimab. They are antibodies which are made in laboratories, when used, it mimics the immune system and protects it from harmful pathogens. These antibodies are designed to block the virus attachment on human cells and blocks itS entry in the body. The cocktail also remains effective against the virus spread and different variants.

Talking about how useful this drug can be in COVID-19 fight, Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, Medanta Hospitals said that these have been used extensively in the US and Europe and added,

The experience shows when given in first seven days of COVID infection, 70-80- percent of people who are going to be entering hospitals for treatment will not need hospitalisation. If these antibodies are injected into a patient infected with COVID-19 virus at an early stage when the virus is trying to multiply then it blocks the virus from entering the cells of the patient from where it derives nutrition to multiply. So by blocking the virus they are stopping the multiplication of the virus and finally the virus spikes. It is one of the blocking mechanisms that is working against the COVID-19 virus.

Watch: Dos And Don’ts Of Using Steroids In COVID-19 Treatment

Who Can Use This Drug Therapy For Treating COVID-19 And Who Cannot?

According to the statement by drug-maker Roche, the antibody cocktail is to be administered for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at high risk of developing severe disease. High-risk includes patients over 60 and/or those who have various comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease, chronic lung or kidney disease, diabetes etc.

Explaining the dosage and requirement of this drug and its data, V Simpson Emmanuel said,

This is one of the few very appropriate treatment which we have for COVID right now. We also have a very robust clinical data on this drug, we have 13,000 odd patients in whom the drug has been tested and we have got some very interesting results. That is the reason we have got the emergency usage approval not just in India but also in US and European Union. Patients need just one dose of this cocktail antibody, which is basically a combined dose of 1200 mg (600 mg of each drug).

Also Read: Explainer: All About DRDO’s New COVID Drug

The antibody cocktail therapy is not recommended for patients who are hospitalised due to severe COVID-19, or those who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19 or who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to the disease and in patients on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-Covid-19 related comorbidity.

Talking about if this drug can strengthen the fight against covid-19, Dr Naresh Trehan said,

We are glad to now have access to Monoclonal Antibody Therapy in India. This fast and effective treatment for COVID -19 will save patients at the highest risk from falling critically ill, getting hospitaliSed or possibly dying of complications from COVID-19. We look forward to serving our patients with this therapy and saving more lives. However, having said that patients are advised to check with their doctor if monoclonal antibody therapy may be beneficial to them in the treatment of their COVID-19 infection.

On the other hand, talking about the drug and its challenges, Dr Rahul Pandit, COVID Task Force Maharashtra said,

We need to understand that we are talking about relative risk reduction of 70 per cent and not absolute reduction. Also, one vial has two doses and it can be stored for 48 hours alone, so at a time you need to have two patients who can be administered this drug. Regardless of this fact, the drug is still out of reach for many of us because of its price.

He further said that if India ramps up its vaccination programme, we won’t need this therapy as much.

Highlighting the drug cannot be used on Children, Dr Pandit added,

The studies for now have only be done for adult population and it categorically says FOR patients with high risk, so definitely it’s not safe to administer the drug on children.

COVID-19 Explainer: How Are Antibodies Formed And How Long Do They Last?

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


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