AstraZeneca’s Evusheld Becomes First FDA Authorised Antibody Therapy to Prevent COVID-19
Evusheld, a long-acting antibody (LAAB) combination from AstraZeneca, has received emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the FDA in the United States for the prevention of COVID-19, and first doses are anticipated to become available very soon.
Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies and is the only antibody therapy authorised in the US for COVID-19 pre-exposure prophylaxis. Evusheld is also the only COVID-19 antibody delivered as an intramuscular dose (150mg tixagevimab and 150mg cilgavimab).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the EUA for Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab) for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in adults and adolescents (aged 12 and older who weigh 40kg or more) with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or immunosuppressive medications and who may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, as well as those individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended. Recipients should not be currently infected with or had recent known exposure to someone who is infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Myron J. Levin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, US, and principal investigator on the PROVENT trial, said:
“Millions of people in the US and around the world remain at serious risk for COVID-19 because their immune systems do not generate a sufficient immune response, even after receiving all recommended doses of vaccine. I am excited to offer my patients Evusheld as an easily-administered new option that provides long-lasting protection that could help them return to their everyday lives.”
Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said:
“We are proud to play a leading role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and, with Evusheld, we now have the first antibody therapy authorised in the US to prevent COVID-19 symptoms before virus exposure, while also providing long lasting protection with a single dose. Evusheld neutralises all previous SARs-CoV-2 variants to date, and we are working quickly to establish its efficacy against the new Omicron variant. We thank our clinical trial participants, the investigators, scientists, and government agencies and our colleagues at AstraZeneca who have all contributed to the development of Evusheld.”
Brian Koffman, MDCM (retired), MS Ed, Co-Founder, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) Society, US, said:
“One of the primary questions I keep getting asked by patients is ‘When can I hug my grandchildren again?’ As a physician and person with a weakened immune system, l am filled with hope now that Evusheld will soon be available to those who can’t count on vaccination alone to provide the protection they need.”
Approximately 2% of the world’s population is considered at increased risk of an inadequate response to a COVID-19 vaccine. About seven million people in the US are immunocompromised and may benefit from Evusheld for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19. This includes people with blood cancers or other cancers being treated with chemotherapy, and those taking medications after an organ transplant or who are taking immunosuppressive drugs for conditions including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The United Kingdom has already approved antibody treatments Ronapreve (casirivimab/imdevimab) by Roche, which can prevent and treat COVID-19, and Xevudy (sotrovimab) by GSK and Vir Biotechnology, which cuts the risk of severe illness among infected people.
Should the UK follow the US, Evusheld would become the first COVID-19 treatment in Britain to be prescribed as a prophylaxis, with the intention of stopping people from getting ill in the first place.
Evusheld’s efficacy was 83% compared to placebo at median six-month analysis
The primary data supporting the Evusheld EUA are from the ongoing PROVENT Phase III pre-exposure prevention trial, which showed a statistically significant reduction (77% at primary analysis, 83% at median six-month analysis) in the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 compared to placebo, with protection from the virus continuing for at least six months. More follow-up is needed to establish the full duration of protection provided by Evusheld. Data from the Phase III STORM CHASER post-exposure trial and the Evusheld Phase I trial also supported the EUA. Evusheld was well-tolerated in the trials.
Evusheld and SARS-CoV-2 variants
Studies are underway to provide information on the impact of the new Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) on Evusheld.10,11 Of the Omicron binding site substitutions relevant to Evusheld that have been tested to date in preclinical assays, none have been associated with escape from Evusheld neutralisation. In vitro findings demonstrate Evusheld neutralises other recent emergent SARS-CoV-2 viral variants, including the Delta and Mu variants.
Evusheld is being developed with support from the US government, including federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in partnership with the Department of Defense; Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense, under Contract No. W911QY-21-9-0001.
AstraZeneca has agreed to supply the US government with 700,000 doses of Evusheld. The U.S. government has indicated that it plans to distribute these doses to states and territories at no cost and on a pro rata basis.
AstraZeneca is progressing with filings around the globe for potential emergency use authorisation or conditional approval of Evusheld in both COVID-19 prophylaxis and treatment.
Evusheld, formerly known as AZD7442 is a combination of two long-acting antibodies (LAABs) – tixagevimab (AZD8895) and cilgavimab (AZD1061) – derived from B-cells donated by convalescent patients after SARS-CoV-2 virus. Discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and licensed to AstraZeneca in June 2020, the human monoclonal antibodies bind to distinct sites on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein13 and were optimised by AstraZeneca with half-life extension and reduced Fc receptor and complement C1q binding. The half-life extension more than triples the durability of its action compared to conventional antibodies and could afford up to 12 months of protection from COVID-19 following a single administration;14-16 data from the Phase III PROVENT trial show protection lasting at least six months.17 The reduced Fc receptor binding aims to minimise the risk of antibody-dependent enhancement of disease – a phenomenon in which virus-specific antibodies promote, rather than inhibit, infection and/or disease.18 Evusheld is delivered as an IM dose of 150mg tixagevimab and 150mg cilgavimab administered in two separate, consecutive injections.
In August 2021, AstraZeneca announced that Evusheld demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 in the PROVENT trial; efficacy was 83% compared to placebo in a six-month analysis announced on 18 November 2021. In October 2021, AstraZeneca announced positive high-level results from the Evusheld TACKLE Phase III outpatient treatment trial. Evusheld is also being studied as a potential treatment for hospitalised COVID-19 patients as part of the National Institute of Health’s ACTIV-3 trial and in an additional collaborator hospitalisation treatment trial.
Under the terms of the licensing agreement with Vanderbilt, AstraZeneca will pay single-digit royalties on future net sales.
AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit www.astrazeneca.com