Egypt receives first batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 antibody drug Evusheld

Doaa A.Moneim , Monday 31 Jan 2022

The first batch of AstraZeneca’s Evusheld — a monoclonal antibody drug that resists the coronavirus — comprising 15,000 doses arrived in Egypt, the company announced on Monday.

AstraZeneca s Evusheld doses. Ahram

The shipment arrived at the Cairo International Airport on Saturday, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca added. 

The company stated that further deliveries are expected in the coming weeks as part of a total supply of 50,000 doses in 2022.

Egypt is the first African country and the fourth globally to receive Evusheld, AstraZeneca said.

On 16 January, the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) granted AstraZeneca’s Evusheld an emergency use authorisation. Evusheld also obtained an emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration in December.

Evusheld is taken for pre-exposure Prophylaxis of COVID-19, especially to those whose immunity system may not mount a defence despite taking the required COVID-19 vaccine shots.

The drug can reduce the risk of severe illness or death from the coronavirus by 88 percent when administered to patients suffering from mild to moderate COVID-19 within three days of the onset of symptoms, AstraZeneca said, citing the results of its phase-three clinical trials on the drug.

AstraZeneca says Evusheld neutralises all coronavirus variants based on clinical trials. The company also cited studies from Oxford and Washington universities that found that Evusheld retains neutralising activity against the Omicron variant.

“Egypt has become one of the first countries in the world to receive Evusheld, a breakthrough medication to protect the most vulnerable groups,” said Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, the spokesperson of Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population.

He added that collaboration between the health ministry and AstraZeneca played a key role in efforts to respond to the pandemic through the provision of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

“With Evusheld, we now have better capabilities to protect immunocompromised patients in Egypt.”

Hatem Werdany, AstraZeneca’s country president for Egypt, noted that AstraZeneca remains committed to supporting the ministry’s efforts in fighting COVID-19 by bringing innovative medicines and breakthrough solutions to the Egyptian people.

About two percent of the global population is considered at increased risk of an inadequate response to a COVID-19 vaccine, according to AstraZeneca.

This includes people with blood cancers or other cancers being treated with chemotherapy, patients on dialysis, those taking medications after an organ transplant or who are taking immunosuppressive drugs for conditions including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, the company explained.

Last week, the EDA issued an emergency use authorisation for Merck’s COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir and has allowed five national companies to manufacture the oral antiviral as a first stage.

Earlier in January, Abdel-Ghaffar said that Egypt is also expected to receive Pfizer’s new drug Paxlovid by the end of the month. The shipment is expected to have enough packages to treat 20,000 coronavirus patients.

No announcement has been made by the ministry as to whether the shipment has been received yet.

Paxlovid and Molnupiravir pills are both used to treat cases with mild-to-moderate symptoms during the early days of infection.

Some studies have found that when taken in the early days of infection, Paxlovid can reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by up to 89 percent, while Molnupiravir can cut the risk by 30 percent.

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