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A GlaxoSmithKline factory. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drugs Administration on Wednesday authorized Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline's monoclonal antibody drug treatment for early COVID infections, the agency said.

Why it matters: It's the third antibody treatment authorized for patients in the early stages of the disease who are at high risk of developing severe infections. The drug is "expected" to protect against variants, according to the FDA.

  • The two companies in March said an interim study showed the drug was highly effective in reducing hospitalizations or death.
  • So far, the U.S. has purchased the treatment directly from manufacturers and offered it to patients through hospitals and health clinics, Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Unlike its predecessors, Vir and Glaxo don't have a contract with the federal government, per WSJ. The companies will have to sell the drug commercially.

What they're saying: "With the authorization of this monoclonal antibody treatment, we are providing another option to help keep high-risk patients with COVID-19 out of the hospital," Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

  • "It is important to expand the arsenal of monoclonal antibody therapies that are expected to retain activity against the circulating variants of COVID-19 in the United States."

Go deeper: Coronavirus Variant Tracker

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
May 26, 2021 - Health

CDC: "Breakthrough" COVID-19 cases are rare

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A small fraction of vaccinated Americans experienced "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19, and an even smaller number were hospitalized, new data from the CDC shows.

By the numbers: As of April 30, there were a total of 10,262 breakthrough infections reported across the U.S., when about 101 million Americans had been vaccinated. The majority of those cases (63%) occurred in females and the median patient age was 58 years old.

May 25, 2021 - Health

New Alzheimer's drug could enter the market soon

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease may soon enter the market, but getting it to patients could be challenging, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The drug, which is called aducanumab and made by Biogen, is the first Alzheimer's treatment thought to slow the progression of the disease in people who show early signs of cognitive impairment.

Updated May 26, 2021 - World

Former Boris Johnson aide gives scathing testimony on U.K.'s early COVID response

Dominic Cummings, the former chief strategist to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, delivered bombshell testimony Wednesday on the British government's early response to the coronavirus, apologizing for falling "disastrously short" in a way that cost thousands of lives.

Why it matters: Cummings, a controversial figure known as the architect behind the Brexit campaign, has become one of Johnson's most troublesome critics since resigning from government after a bitter power struggle last year.