The drug is the latest in the UAE’s expanding arsenal against Coronavirus and it may also help contain the spread of variants Image Credit: Stock photo/Pixabay

The UAE on Saturday announced a new weapon in its armoury against Covid-19 — a drug approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent virus-related mortalities and hospitalisation.

The UAE is the first country in the world to authorise immediate use of the drug Sotrovimab manufactured by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. The drug, according to Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, speeds up recovery of patients, reduces load on intensive care units and saves lives.

The drug was cleared by the FDA for emergency usage on May 26. In an announcement, the regulator said: “US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorisation of the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy Sotrovimab for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults and paediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing and who are at high risk for progression to severe Covid-19, including hospitalisation or death.” The drug can also be given to those who are 65 years and older and those with comorbidities.

Targeting the spike protein

However, the FDA announcement cautioned that the drug “Sotrovimab is not authorised for patients who are hospitalised due to Covid-19 or require oxygen therapy due to Covid-19”. Sotrovimab has lab-generated proteins that mimic naturally produced antibody, targeting the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and blocks the virus’ entry into human cells.

The drug is the latest in the UAE’s expanding arsenal against Coronavirus and it may also help contain the spread of variants. The country is administering four vaccines — Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca — to citizens and residents free of cost. In the coming weeks, Sotrovimab is expected to compliment the UAE’s effort in containing fresh outbreaks and preventing the spread of variants.

As the UAE inches towards total inoculation, restrictions will be eased further, allowing schools, businesses and malls to resume normal operations. The UAE’s multipronged strategy to tackle the virus is yielding results as new infections and mortalities dip.

Preventive steps, including safety restrictions and vaccines have played a big role in slowing down the outbreak. Experiences of countries hit by repetitive outbreaks tell us that people are the first line of defence against the virus. Vaccinations and therapies can be effective only when people follow safety protocols. Therefore, people must continue to practice social distancing, wear mask and follow basic hygiene.