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Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.

  • It provides long-lasting protection with a single dose and is authorized for certain adults and adolescents who are not currently infected with COVID-19 and who haven't recently been exposed.
  • Currently, it is only authorized for immunocompromised people, including organ transplant recipients, blood cancer patients, and people taking immunosuppressive drugs for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

What they're saying: Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, noted in a statement that vaccines were still the best defense against COVID-19.

  • "However, there are certain immune compromised individuals who may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, or those who have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine and therefore cannot receive one and need an alternative prevention option," Cavazzoni added.
  • "Today's action authorizes the use of the combination of two monoclonal antibodies to reduce the risk of developing COVID-19 in these individuals."

How it works: The drug is made up of two monoclonal antibodies, laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses — tixagevimab and cilgavimab.

  • It's administered via two injections — one of each monoclonal antibody — in the same sitting and may provide up to six months of protection.

By the numbers: Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will supply the U.S. government with 700,000 doses of Evusheld, to be proportionally distributed across states at no cost and on a pro rata basis.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement in sex abuse case

Jon Vaughn, a former University of Michigan and NFL football player, speaks at a press conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., in June 2021. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The University of Michigan on Wednesday reached a $490 million settlement with over a thousand survivors who allege that they were sexually assaulted by a former physician in the school's athletic department.

Driving the news: "It's been a long and challenging journey and these survivors have refused to remain silent," attorney Parker Stinar said Wednesday.

4 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.