UK government rethinks plans to buy AZ antibody doses – report

The UK government has got cold feet over plans to buy a million doses of AstraZeneca’s antibody treatment for coronavirus, according to a press report.

Bloomberg quoted two sources close to the matter saying that the government is rethinking the plans as AZ prepares to announce late-stage data for the antibody called AZD7442.

AZD7442 is a combination of antibodies derived from convalescent plasma, taken from patients who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 but have recovered.

The two antibodies were discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and licensed to AZ in June last year and is a potential competitor to Regeneron’s REGEN-COV2.

But AZ thinks the extended half-life of the antibodies could provide at least six months of protection from COVID-19.

AZ agreed to provide the UK with a million doses of AZD7442 in November and the government planned to use the drug to provide protection for vulnerable people who cannot receive a vaccine.

Since then the UK has deprioritised people with severe immunosuppression in its vaccine roll-out as the shots are less likely to be effective, deciding instead to vaccinate those who are living with them.

However according to Bloomberg the pace and scale of the roll-out vaccination programme means that there is less need for the antibody treatment.

The news comes after UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced there will be a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic next year.

Work is to begin to appoint a chair and potential panellists, draw up terms of reference and the inquiry should be up and running in about a year’s time, Johnson told the House of Commons.

But there was criticism of the timing of the inquiry: experts said it could be set up faster than spring next year.

According to the Guardian Labour’s Lord Falconer, who passed the Inquiries Act as lord chancellor, said the government could be confident the inquiry will not make conclusions before the next general election in 2023.

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