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Coronavirus: Virus treatment focus of health commissioner visit

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EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides

Promising therapies against Covid-19 are to be the central message during EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides’ visit to Cyprus this week.

She has said that vaccinations are not the only solution to Covid-19 as “people continue to get infected and get sick”, adding that preventing the disease – through vaccination – must go hand in hand with treating Covid-19.

The EU announced on Tuesday that the commission had signed a joint procurement contract with US drugmaker Eli Lilly for the supply of a monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19.

It’s currently under review by the European Medicines Agency, the commission said, and 18 EU nations have signed up for the purchase of enough to treat up to 220,000 patients.

“Over 73 per cent of the adult population of the EU is now fully vaccinated and this rate will continue to further increase,” the commissioner said.

During her visit to Cyprus on Thursday, Kyriakides is to visit Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, where they will also discuss other health issues.

But the focus is on therapies to lessen the severity of Covid-19 symptoms.

The commission announced a portfolio of five promising therapeutics in June – four of which are monoclonal antibodies and the fifth is an immunosuppressant.

At the time, Kyriakides said that while the vaccination campaign is steadily progressing, the virus will not disappear and patients will need safe and effective treatments to reduce the burden of Covid-19.

But the antibody treatment is costly, estimated at about $2,100 per dose compared to the Covid-19 vaccines which are at about $10 and $20 a dose.

In the UK, another Covid treatment – that uses a pair of laboratory-made antibodies to attack the virus – has been approved.

Ronapreve gained a boost in attention as it was part of the experimental treatment given to former US President Donald Trump last year.

The US government recently purchased 1.4 million more doses of the drug and a further 400,000 doses from Eli Lilly, with demand soaring for the treatment amid the spread of the Delta variant.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that since his state opened antibody treatment in August over 100,000 Floridians have received the drug. He also stated that Covid-19 hospital admission have fallen by over 60 per cent.

 

 

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