AstraZeneca’s COVID antibody drugs will soon be available in Việt Nam

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AstraZeneca’s Evusheld vials. — Photo courtesy of the company

HÀ NỘI — A private hospital system in Việt Nam said on Thursday they are set to soon use AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, a long-acting antibody combination (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab), for the prevention of COVID-19 for the most at-risk groups of the population.

Tâm Anh General Hospital system, via the Việt Nam Vaccine Company (who also secured the first contract for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for Việt Nam in early 2021), will be the first to be given the green light from health authorities to use the treatment on their patients – starting with facilities in Hà Nội and HCM City.

The monoclonal antibody cocktail from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical group was the first to have received emergency use authorisation for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 from the US Federal Drug Agency, and also was the first one to be approved for use in Việt Nam by the Ministry of Health, according to Tâm Anh General Hospital.

The products will mainly be used for high-risk people such as clinically vulnerable groups, people with the compromised immune system, people who develop very little immune response even after full vaccination or people who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination (for reasons like serious allergy or shock reactions against components of COVID-19 vaccines).

The therapy is welcome news in efforts to reduce COVID-19 related fatalities in the vulnerable groups in Việt Nam, as cases continue to rise to record levels in recent weeks, despite over 98 per cent of the population from the age of 12 having been fully inoculated.

Prof. Dr Ngô Quý Châu, Chairman of the Việt Nam Respiratory Association and Professional Director of Tâm Anh General Hospital, said that many patients with immunodeficiency, cancer, autoimmune arthritis, or people who have recently undergone organ transplant, etc. are very vulnerable to COVID-19 and live in anxiety and near-social isolation.

“Patients are concerned that their body can’t generate sufficient amount of immunity after vaccination like in the cases of healthy people. Monoclonal antibody therapy like Evusheld will provide an extra layer of ‘immediate defence’ to increase protection for these high-risk cases, allowing them to join in the ‘new normal’ settings with a reduced risk of serious complications, hospitalisation, and death from coronavirus infections,” Châu said.

Evusheld is reported to generate enough antibodies just a few hours after injection. The protection efficacy against coronavirus infections could reach up to 83 per cent in six months, with near-perfect records in preventing serious diseases and deaths in the six months of observation during AstraZeneca PROVENT studies.

The injection is also effective against the Omicron variant, which is gaining a foothold around the world, including Việt Nam (notably the urban centres of Hà Nội and HCM City).

According to the World Health Organisation, immunocompromised individuals represent approximately 2 per cent of the overall population.

Tâm Anh Hospital has set up a support line for people who are interested in the injection at this website address: https://tamanhhospital.vn/dang-ky-tu-van-evusheld/, with links for registration to be available later.

The pricing, exact availability date, or how many doses in the contract for Việt Nam is not yet publicly available. — VNS

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