Nov 30 (Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc's COVID-19
antibody drug could be less effective against Omicron, it said
on Tuesday, adding to fears about the efficacy of existing
treatments after Moderna's top boss raised similar concerns
about the company's vaccine.
Global markets tumbled after comments from Moderna's
chief executive officer rekindled worries that the
variant may weigh on a nascent global economic recovery.
Based on its study of Omicron's individual mutations,
"there may be reduced neutralization activity of both
vaccine-induced and monoclonal antibody conveyed immunity",
Regeneron said, adding that the analysis included its
COVID-19 antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV.
The company said it was doing further study to quantify the
potential impact using the variant's genetic sequence.
One of the antibodies used in the treatment will likely take
a hit, the other less so, CEO Len Schleifer said in a CNBC
"Just like vaccines will have to adapt, we're probably going
to have to constantly adapt our monoclonals."
Eli Lilly and Co, which makes a similar monoclonal
antibody treatment, is also working to understand neutralization
activity of its therapies on Omicron, the company told Reuters
in an e-mailed statement.
Regeneron shares fell about 3% in morning trading, while
those of Lilly shed 2.5%.
Rival Vir Biotechnology Inc said based on the
Omicron sequence its antibody therapy, sotrovimab, will likely
maintain potency against the variant.
The company is "working to confirm this in the lab as a
matter of urgency", it added.
Gilead Inc said it believed its intravenous
therapy, Remdesivir, currently the only antiviral approved for
treating COVID-19, will continue to be effective against
currently identified variants, including Omicron
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration said on Tuesday it was
evaluating the effectiveness of authorized COVID-19 vaccines
against Omicron and was expecting to have more information in
the next few weeks.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru;
Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D'Silva)