US pays $1b for COVID antibody drug doses

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The United States has signed contracts worth $US1 billion to secure supply of the antibody-based COVID-19 treatment sotrovimab.

British firm GSK said the deal brought the total number of doses secured for the treatment to more than 750,000 globally, adding that supply was expected by December 17.

The United States would have an option to buy additional doses through March 2022.

GSK did not specify how many doses the US government had signed up for.

In October, Australia's federal government reported it had received 15,000 doses of sotrovimab, which is used to stop the virus replicating.

Australia's national stockpile of the drug, administered by intravenous infusion within five days of patients developing symptoms, is expected to exceed 30,000 doses this year.

Other deals include 10,000 doses for Canada and up to 220,000 for the European Union

Sotrovimab is authorised for emergency use in the United States to prevent mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 from worsening.

The European Medicines Agency has given it the go-ahead for use by member states, although EU-wide approval is still pending.

The treatment has been shown to cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by up to 79 per cent in adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

While vaccines remain at the heart of the fight against the virus, treatments including oral antiviral pills offer options to contain infections.

The treatment, branded Xevudy, brought in sales of Stg 130 million ($A240 million) for GSK in the first nine months of 2021.

Similar products are offered or being developed by Eli Lilly , Regeneron and AstraZeneca.

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