Virus World
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Virus World
Virus World provides a daily blog of the latest news in the Virology field and the COVID-19 pandemic. News on new antiviral drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tests, viral outbreaks, novel viruses and milestone discoveries are curated by expert virologists. Highlighted news include trending and most cited scientific articles in these fields with links to the original publications. Stay up-to-date with the most exciting discoveries in the virus world and the last therapies for COVID-19 without spending hours browsing news and scientific publications. Additional comments by experts on the topics are available in Linkedin (
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Cell-Based Coronavirus Assays for Evaluation of COVID-19 Antibodies, Vaccines, and Antivirals

Cell-Based Coronavirus Assays for Evaluation of COVID-19 Antibodies, Vaccines, and Antivirals | Virus World |

RetroVirox offers a menu of cell-based antiviral services to evaluate experimental therapies and vaccines against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The company offers in vitro testing with SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirions and with  live SARS-CoV-2 viruses to evaluate entry inhibitors, neutralizing antibodies, and antivirals against the novel coronavirus causative agent of COVID-19. Multiple viral strains are available for testing, including the South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1), and the U.K. variant B.1.1.7. Pseudoviruses are coated with the viral spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 to recapitulate the mode of entry of the novel coronavirus. The assay can be used for the following purposes:


  • To determine the neutralizing activity of therapeutic antibodies and antisera
  • To test experimental COVID-19 vaccines using antisera from inoculated animals or humans
  • To evaluate small-molecule and other entry inhibitors targeting the S viral protein, the ACE-2 viral receptor, or host proteases and other targets involved in SARS-CoV-2 viral entry


Assays with live replicating SARS-CoV-2, and milder forms of seasonal human coronaviruses (hCoV-OC43  and 229E) allow for the evaluation of inhibitors at all stages of the coronavirus life cycle. Additional Information about the coronavirus assays offered at RetroVirox is available here. Request additional information by email at

Andrrey Yatsenko's curator insight, December 26, 2020 1:15 PM
New  immunity  for  people in the  world to COVID -19 is  result of  evolution !!!
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COVAXIN Works Against Double Mutant; Reduces Hospitalisation, Shows Phase 3 Interim Data : The Tribune India

COVAXIN Works Against Double Mutant; Reduces Hospitalisation, Shows Phase 3 Interim Data : The Tribune India | Virus World |

Aditi TandonTribune News ServiceNew Delhi, April 21 In a major boost to made in India Covid vaccine enterprise, indigenous shot COVAXIN has been shown to successfully neutralise the double mutant  detected in certain parts of India and the world. The Indian Council of Medical Research lab National Institute of Virology announced the development today saying the Bharat Biotech-ICMR made COVID vaccine was effective against multiple strains of the SARS-Cov2 virus.  The ICMR had earlier isolated UK and Brazil strains and shown COVAXIN was effective against these. The results of COVAXIN working against the double mutant were announced on Friday simultaneous to another major research declaration that reveals COVAXIN has 78 to 100 pc efficacy against severe COVID disease. Bharat Biotech and ICMR today jointly shared the interim results from Phase 3 trials of COVAXIN saying these “demonstrate overall interim clinical efficacy of 78 pc and 100 pc efficacy against severe COVID-19 disease”. The second interim analysis is based on more than 87 symptomatic cases of COVID-19.


The firm said due to the recent surge in cases, 127 symptomatic cases were recorded, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 78 pc against mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19 disease. “The efficacy against severe COVID-19 disease was 100 pc with an impact on reduction in hospitalizations. The efficacy against asymptomatic COVID-19 infection was 70 pc, suggesting decreased transmission in COVAXIN recipients,” the results said.  Safety and efficacy results from the final analysis will be available in June, and the final report will be submitted to a peer-reviewed publication, ICMR and Bharat Biotech said. The Phase 3 study enrolled 25,800 participants between 18-98 years of age, including 10 pc over the age of 60, with analysis conducted 14 days post 2nd dose. 


COVAXIN was developed with seed strains received from the National Institute of Virology and the phase 3 clinical trial was co-funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, making it a true public, private partnership towards public health. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, said, “Efficacy against SARS-Cov-2 has been established. COVAXIN has demonstrated an excellent safety record in human clinical trials and in usage under emergency use. COVAXIN is now a global innovator vaccine derived from Research and development from India. The efficacy data against severe COVID-19 and asymptomatic infections is highly significant, as this helps reduce hospitalizations and disease transmission, respectively”.

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Herpes Infection Possibly Linked to COVID-19 Vaccine

Herpes Infection Possibly Linked to COVID-19 Vaccine | Virus World |

Herpes infections may be a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, experts have revealed. Scientists in Israel identified six cases in a new study of patients developing a skin rash known as herpes zoster after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, according to a study in the Rheumatology journal.  Herpes zoster starts off as a small, itchy skin rash, but if left untreated, it could cause nerve damage and pain, the Jerusalem Post reported. This can include a prolonged burning sensation on the skin even after the rash disappears. Researchers from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Carmel Medical Center in Haifa found those with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases had a higher risk of developing the herpes. Out of 491 patients, six people or 1.2 percent experienced the infection, researchers said. The six patients all have mild cases of autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases and were young, though the infection is generally more common in those over the age of 50.


“That is why we reported on it,” Dr. Victoria Furer, the lead author, told the outlet. Five of them developed herpes zoster after the first dose and the sixth got it after the second. But it’s still unclear whether the vaccine caused the cases of herpes zoster. “We cannot say the vaccine is the cause at this point,” Furer told the outlet. “We can say it might be a trigger in some patients.” “We should not scare people,” she told the Jerusalem Post. “The overall message is to get vaccinated. It is just important to be aware.”


Original research published in Rheumathology (April 12, 2021):

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Study Shows Past COVID-19 Infection Doesn't Fully Protect Young People Against Reinfection

Study Shows Past COVID-19 Infection Doesn't Fully Protect Young People Against Reinfection | Virus World |

Although antibodies induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection are largely protective, they do not completely protect against reinfection in young people, as evidenced through a longitudinal, prospective study of more than 3,000 young, healthy members of the US Marines Corps conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Naval Medical Research Center, published April 15 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.  "Our findings indicate that reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 in health young adults is common" says Stuart Sealfon, MD, the Sara B. and Seth M. Glickenhaus Professor of Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and senior author of the paper. "Despite a prior COVID-19 infection, young people can catch the virus again and may still transmit it to others. This is an important point to know and remember as vaccine rollouts continue. Young people should get the vaccine whenever possible, since vaccination is necessary to boost immune responses, prevent reinfection, and reduce transmission."


The study, conducted between May and November 2020, revealed that around 10 percent (19 out of 189) of participants who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-s (seropositive) became reinfected, compared with new infections in 50 percent (1.079 out of 2,247) of participants who had not been previously infected (seronegative). While seronegative study participants had a five times greater risk of infection than seropositive participants, the study showed that seropositive people are still at risk of reinfection. The study population consisted of 3,249 predominantly male, 18-20-year-old Marine recruits who, upon arrival at a Marine-supervised two-week quarantine prior to entering basic training, were assessed for baseline SARS-CoV-2 IgG seropositivity (defined as a 1:150 dilution or greater on receptor binding domain and full-length spike protein enzyme-linked immunosorbent [ELISA] assays.) The presence of SARS-CoV-2 was assessed by PCR at initiation, middle and end of quarantine. After appropriate exclusions, including participants with a positive PCR during quarantine, the study team performed three bi-weekly PCR tests in both seronegative and seropositive groups once recruits left quarantine and entered basic training. Recruits who tested positive for a new second COVID-19 infection during the study were isolated and the study team followed up with additional testing. Levels of neutralising antibodies were also taken from subsequently infected seropositive and selected seropositive participants who were not reinfected during the study period.  Of the 2,346 Marines followed long enough for this analysis of reinfection rate, 189 were seropositive and 2,247 were seronegative at the start of the study. Across both groups of recruits, there were 1,098 (45%) new infections during the study. Among the seropositive participants, 19 (10%) tested positive for a second infection during the study. Of the recruits who were seronegative, 1,079 (48%) became infected during the study.


To understand why these reinfections occurred, the authors studied the reinfected and not infected participants' antibody responses. They found that, among the seropositive group, participants who became reinfected had lower antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 virus than those who did not become reinfected. In addition, in the seropositive group, neutralising antibodies were less common (neutralising antibodies were detected in 45 (83%) of 54 uninfected, and in six (32%) of 19 reinfected participants during the six weeks of observation). Comparing new infections between seropositive and seronegative participants, the authors found that viral load (the amount of measurable SARS-CoV-2 virus) in reinfected seropositive recruits was on average only 10 times lower than in infected seronegative participants, which could mean that some reinfected individuals could still have a capacity to transmit infection. The authors note that this will need further investigation. In the study, most new COVID-19 cases were asymptomatic—84% (16 out of 19 participants) in the seropositive group vs 68% (732 out of 1,079 participants) in the seronegative group—or had mild symptoms and none were hospitalised. The authors note some limitations to their study, including that it likely underestimates the risk of reinfection in previously infected individuals because it does not account for people with very love antibody levels following their past infection. They strongly suggest that even young people with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection be a target of vaccination since efforts must be made to prevent transmission and prevent infection amongst this group.


Study cited was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine (April 15, 2021):

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J&J Scientists Refute ‘Class Effect’ to Blame for Clots in Those Who Got its COVID-19 Vaccine

J&J Scientists Refute ‘Class Effect’ to Blame for Clots in Those Who Got its COVID-19 Vaccine | Virus World |

Scientists at Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) on Friday refuted an assertion in a major medical journal that the design of their COVID-19 vaccine, which is similar AstraZeneca's (AZN.L), may explain why both have been linked to very rare brain blood clots in some vaccine recipients.  The United States earlier this week paused distribution of the J&J vaccine to investigate six cases of a rare brain blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), accompanied by a low blood platelet count, in U.S. women under age 50, out of about 7 million people who got the shot. The blood clots in patients who received the J&J vaccine bear close resemblance to 169 cases in Europe reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of 34 million doses administered there. Both vaccines are based on a new technology that uses a modified version of adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, as vectors to ferry instructions to human cells.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scrutinizing this design behind both vaccines to see if it is contributing to the risk. In a letter on Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine, J&J scientists refuted a case report published earlier this week by Kate Lynn-Muir and colleagues at the University of Nebraska, who asserted that the rare blood clots "could be related to adenoviral vector vaccines." In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert and an adviser to the White House, said the fact that they are both adenovirus vector vaccines is a “pretty obvious clue” that the cases could be linked to the vector. "Whether that is the reason, I can't say for sure, but it certainly is something that raises suspicion," Fauci said.  In the correspondence on Friday, Macaya Douoguih, a scientist with J&J's Janssen vaccines division, and colleagues pointed out that the vectors used in its vaccine and the AstraZeneca shot are "substantially different" and that those differences could lead to "quite different biological effects." Specifically, they noted that the J&J vaccine uses a human adenovirus while the AstraZeneca vaccine uses a chimpanzee adenovirus. The vectors are also from different virologic families or species, and use different cell receptors to enter cells.


The J&J shot also includes mutations to stabilize the so-called spike protein portion of the coronavirus that the vaccine uses to produce an immune response, while the AstraZeneca vaccine does not. "The vectors are very different," said Dr. Dan Barouch of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston, who helped design the J&J vaccine.  "The implications of issues with one vector for the other one are not clear at this point," he said in an interview earlier this week. The J&J scientists said in the letter there was not enough evidence to say their vaccine caused the blood clots and they continue to work with health authorities to assess the data. A panel of advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to meet on April 23 to determine whether the pause on use of the J&J vaccine can be lifted.


Letter from J&J published in NEJM  (April 15, 2021): 

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FDA Rescinds Emergency Authorization for COVID-19 Antibody Treatment Bamlanivimab

FDA Rescinds Emergency Authorization for COVID-19 Antibody Treatment Bamlanivimab | Virus World |

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rescinded its emergency use authorization for the monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab to be used on its own as treatment against COVID-19 due to variants' resistance to the therapy. The federal agency declared its cancelation of bamlanivimab-only COVID-19 therapy hours after the company Eli Lilly requested the FDA revoke the emergency authorization because the variants resistant to the treatment have become more common. With the number of resistant infections growing, the agency concluded that the benefits of treating COVID-19 with only bamlanivimab “no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for its authorized use.”   The FDA cited data that as of mid-March about 20 percent of variants in the U.S. were expected to be resistant to bamlanivimab, compared to 5 percent in January. But the FDA still grants bamlanivimab and another monoclonal antibody, etesevimab, to be used together to treat COVID-19 under an emergency use authorization. In a March study, Eli Lilly determined the combination of monoclonal antibodies — lab-created proteins that copy how the immune system responds to viruses — reduced the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 87 percent.


“Other monoclonal antibody therapies authorized for emergency use remain appropriate treatment choices when used in accordance with the authorized labeling and can help keep high risk patients with COVID-19 out of the hospital,” Patrizia Cavazzoni, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a release.  “We urge the American public to seek out these therapies when needed while we continue to use the best data available to provide patients with safe and effective treatments during this pandemic,” Cavazzoni added.  The emergency use authorization for bamlanivimab-only COVID-19 treatment, granted in November, was the first monoclonal antibody approved to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 cases. It originally allowed it to be used alone for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 adult patients and some children at high risk of severe coronavirus illness or hospitalization.   The federal agency said it will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to monitor how variants impact the treatments authorized for emergency use.  Eli Lilly called for the FDA to end emergency authorization for bamlanivimab-only COVID-19 treatment “due the evolving variant landscape in the U.S. and the full availability of bamlanivimab and etesevimab together.” The company noted its request for authorization to be revoked was “not due to any new safety concern.”


The company reported that more than 400,000 patients were treated with bamlanivimab, saying it potentially prevented more than 20,000 hospitalizations and at least 10,000 deaths in the U.S. "With the growing prevalence of variants in the U.S. that bamlanivimab alone may not fully neutralize, and with sufficient supply of etesevimab, we believe now is the right time to complete our planned transition and focus on the administration of these two neutralizing antibodies together,” Eli Lilly’s Chief Scientific Officer and President of Lilly Research Laboratories Daniel Skovronsky said in the release.  Eli Lilly’s request came after the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response declared in March the U.S. had stopped using bamlanivimab alone to treat COVID-19.


FDA's bamlanivimab revocation letter  (April 16, 2021): 

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Risk of Rare Blood Clotting Higher for COVID-19 Than For Vaccines | University of Oxford

Risk of Rare Blood Clotting Higher for COVID-19 Than For Vaccines | University of Oxford | Virus World |

COVID-19 leads to a several-times higher risk of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) blood clots than current COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers at the University of Oxford have today reported that the risk of the rare blood clotting known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) following COVID-19 infection is around 100 times greater than normal, several times higher than it is post-vaccination or following influenza. The study authors, led by Professor Paul Harrison and Dr Maxime Taquet from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, counted the number of CVT cases diagnosed in the two weeks following diagnosis of COVID-19, or after the first dose of a vaccine. The then compared these to calculated incidences of CVT following influenza, and the background level in the general population. They report that CVT is more common after COVID-19 than in any of the comparison groups, with 30% of these cases occurring in the under 30s. Compared to the current COVID-19 vaccines, this risk is between 8-10 times higher, and compared to the baseline, approximately 100 times higher. The breakdown comparison for reported cases of CVT in COVID-19 patients in comparison to CVT cases in those who received a COVID-19 vaccine is:


  • In this study of over 500,000 COVID-19 patients, CVT occurred in 39 in a million patients.
  • In over 480,000 people receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), CVT occurred in 4 in a million.
  • CVT has been reported to occur in about 5 in a million people after first dose of the AZ-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Compared to the mRNA vaccines, the risk of a CVT from COVID-19 is about 10 times greater.
  • Compared to the AZ-Oxford vaccine, the risk of a CVT from COVID-19 is about 8 times greater.


However, all comparisons must be interpreted cautiously since data are still accruing. Paul Harrison, Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Translational Neurobiology Group at the University of Oxford, said: ‘There are concerns about possible associations between vaccines, and CVT, causing governments and regulators to restrict the use of certain vaccines. Yet, one key question remained unknown: ‘What is the risk of CVT following a diagnosis of COVID-19?’. ‘We’ve reached two important conclusions. Firstly, COVID-19 markedly increases the risk of CVT, adding to the list of blood clotting problems this infection causes. Secondly, the COVID-19 risk is higher than we see with the current vaccines, even for those under 30; something that should be taken into account when considering the balances between risks and benefits for vaccination.’ Dr Maxime Taquet, also from the Translational Neurobiology Group, said: ‘It’s important to note that this data should be interpreted cautiously, especially since the data on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine come from EMA monitoring, whereas the other data uses the TriNetX electronic health records network. However, the signals that COVID-19 is linked to CVT, as well as portal vein thrombosis – a clotting disorder of the liver – is clear, and one we should take note of.’ An important factor that requires further research is whether COVID-19 and vaccines lead to CVT by the same or different mechanisms. There may also be under-reporting or mis-coding of CVT in medical records, and therefore uncertainty as to the precision of the results.


Publication  available from the OSF website

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CDC Says 5,800 Fully Vaccinated People Caught Covid-19 Anyway

CDC Says 5,800 Fully Vaccinated People Caught Covid-19 Anyway | Virus World |

About 5,800 people out of tens of millions who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the CDC tells CNN. Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 -- 7% -- of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization.  This is the CDC's first public accounting of breakthrough cases, and the agency is searching for patterns based on patient age and gender, location, type of vaccine, variants and other factors. "So far, about 5,800 breakthrough cases have been reported to CDC. To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics," the CDC told CNN via email.  About 77 million people in the US are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, according to a CNN analysis of CDC data. The CDC's reports on breakthrough cases will lag day-to-day reports of vaccines given, so many, if not most, of those breakthrough cases will have happened weeks ago. Nonetheless, the total represents a very small percentage of those who have been vaccinated. Breakthrough cases are expected. The vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections and as tens of millions of people are vaccinated, more and more such cases will be reported.

Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine was 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in clinical trials, and earlier this month the companies said real-life data in the US shows the vaccine is more than 91% effective against disease with any symptoms for six months. Moderna's vaccine was 94% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in trials, and 90% effective in real life use. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was 66% overall globally in trials, and 72% effective at preventing disease in the US. CDC will be looking for clues about who is most prone to become infected despite having been vaccinated. "Vaccine breakthrough infections were reported among all people of all ages eligible for vaccination. However, a little over 40% of the infections were in people 60 or more years of age," the CDC said. Most, 65%, were female and 29% of the so-called breakthrough infections were asymptomatic. "CDC is monitoring reported cases for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type or lot number, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage," the CDC said.  Plus, samples from cases will be tested to see how many are caused by variants and if so, which ones. "CDC has developed a national COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough database where state health department investigators can currently enter, store, and manage data for cases in their jurisdiction," the CDC said.
"Vaccine breakthrough infections make up a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that all eligible people get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to them. CDC also continues to recommend people who have been fully vaccinated should keep taking precautions in public places, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing their hands often." Outside experts agreed.  The likelihood of these "very rare" infections depends on how much virus is circulating within a community, Dr. Kawsar Talaat, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN. "That's the whole point of getting to herd immunity," Talaat said. "Because once we get to a point where enough people in the community are vaccinated, then if somebody develops Covid in that community, the people around them are protected and it's much harder for that person to spread the virus to somebody else, and therefore the transmission stops." Less transmission means fewer breakthrough cases, said Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine. "There is currently a lot of transmission in many parts of the country. Vaccines will help decrease that," del Rio said. "Get vaccinated as soon as you can and help control this pandemic."
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Regeneron Says Antibody Therapy Prevents COVID-19 Infections

Regeneron Says Antibody Therapy Prevents COVID-19 Infections | Virus World |

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is planning to ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow its antibody cocktail to be used as a preventive treatment for COVID-19, the company said Monday.  New results from a clinical trial conducted with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found the drug reduced the risk of symptomatic infection by 81 percent in people who were not infected at the start of the trial, Regeneron said. The company has already received emergency use authorization from the FDA to use its antibody drugs to treat adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 and pediatric patients at least 12 years old who have tested positive for the virus and are at high risk of severe disease but are not yet hospitalized. The trial enrolled 1,505 people who were not infected with the virus but lived in the same household as someone who recently tested positive. The patients were randomized to receive either one dose of the antibody therapy or a placebo administered as injections. After 29 days, 11 people out of the 753 who received a single 1,200 mg dose of the treatment developed symptomatic COVID-19; 59 people who received a placebo out of 752 participants developed symptomatic COVID-19. 


The drug provided 72 percent protection against symptomatic infections in the first week and 93 percent protection in subsequent weeks, Regeneron said. The data has not yet been peer reviewed or published. Regeneron also said the trial found individuals treated with the therapy who experienced a symptomatic infection resolved their symptoms in one week, compared to three weeks with placebo.  Infected individuals also cleared the virus faster with the therapy, the company said. Adverse events occurred in 20 percent of patients who received the antibody drug and 29 percent of those who received a placebo, Regeneron said, but nobody withdrew from the trial because of them.  None of the participants who received the therapy were hospitalized or went to the ER because of COVID-19 over the course of 29 days; four in the placebo group did so.  There were four deaths in the trial — two in the therapy group and two in the placebo group — but none were reported due to COVID-19 or the drug. "With more than 60,000 Americans continuing to be diagnosed with COVID-19 every day, the REGEN-COV antibody cocktail may help provide immediate protection to unvaccinated people who are exposed to the virus, and we are also working to understand its potential to provide ongoing protection for immunocompromised patients who may not respond well to vaccines," George Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron, said in a statement.


Regeneron's Press Release (April 12, 2021):


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