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Early Regeneron tests indicate antibody drug could be less effective against Omicron

Early testing indicates that the mutations in the Omicron variant of coronavirus may hamper the ability of Regeneron’s antibody drug to treat Covid-19, the company said, suggesting that some therapies may have to be adapted to tackle the virus’s latest evolution.

The findings are a first sign that treatments developed to tackle Covid-19 may have lost effectiveness as the virus evolves. “The individual mutations present in the Omicron variant indicate that there may be reduced neutralization activity of both vaccine-induced and monoclonal antibody conveyed immunity,” Regeneron said on Tuesday.

Tests so far have been carried out using lab samples and modelling. “Further analyses are ongoing to confirm and quantify this potential impact using the actual Omicron variant sequence,” it added.

Regeneron’s share price fell more than 2.8 per cent in pre-market trading. Global markets were down on Tuesday after Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, told the Financial Times he thought existing vaccines would struggle against the Omicron variant.

Regeneron’s Regen-Cov treatment is made up of a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies that block the virus that causes Covid-19, and is widely used to treat patients.

Regeneron said it had a large collection of monoclonal antibodies, and that early analyses indicated some of the next generation antibodies it was developing could retain effectiveness against Omicron.

Eli Lilly, another maker of antibody drugs to treat Covid-19, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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