A nurse at SKMC, Abu Dhabi, working with a patient receiving Sotrovimab. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: An Emirati family that contracted COVID-19 has successfully recovered following treatment with Sotrovimab, the newest anti-viral therapy developed to combat the infectious disease.

Saeed Al Ameri, 36, and his wife and mother, are among numerous patients in Abu Dhabi who have benefitted from receiving the monoclonal antibody drug during their fight against COVID-19, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Al Ameri and his family were treated at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), part of Seha’s network in the capital. Treatment at SKMC

Special Report

Al Ameri had initially been in quarantine at home after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He however began experiencing high fever, headaches and body aches, and was then admitted to SKMC’s intensive care unit, where he was given Sotrovimab. His fever soon dropped, and his overall condition improved so much that he was discharged within just four days.

Soon after his discharge however, Al Ameri’s wife and mother began to deteriorate, and they too were transferred to SKMC and treated with Sotrovimab. Both women recovered well, and were discharged within four days.

“I am so grateful to the leaders of the UAE for their remarkable response to the pandemic. May the UAE be blessed with health, wellness, security, and safety. The unprecedented healthcare me and my family received from the SKMC team was life-saving. I am forever thankful to the entire team,” Al Ameri said.

Saeed Al Ameri
Saeed Al Ameri Image Credit: Supplied

Successful therapy

Dr Anwar Salam, chief medical officer at Seha, said: “As the cornerstone of the UAE’s healthcare landscape and the frontrunners in the nation’s response to the pandemic, we are empowered to bring pioneering services and treatment methods to our community. Thanks to the Department of Health (DoH)– Abu Dhabi’s leadership, we were quick to adopt the emergency use of Sotrovimab and it has proven successful, with a number of those who used this treatment after contracting COVID-19 showing positive response in a short time-frame.”

Grateful patients

Another patient, Allawi Al Mansouri, also said the therapy helped him recover.

“Sotrovimab contributed significantly to my recovery from the virus. Shortly after receiving the medication, my condition drastically improved, and I was discharged completely healthy. I thank the medical team for their efforts and outstanding healthcare,” Al Mansouri said.

May Siddiq Mansour, another recent COVID-19 patient who received Sotrovimab, said: “I pray for the nation’s leaders and healthcare providers to be blessed abundantly for all their hard work in the fight against the pandemic. I’m thankful for the effective treatment provided by the UAE to COVID-19 patients. I recovered almost immediately after receiving Sotrovimab and returned back to normal life.”

Emergency use approval

The monoclonal antibody therapy has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), for the treatment of COVID-19 under an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA). Developed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, a clinical immunology therapy developer, the drug has been proven to reduce deaths from COVID-19 by up to 85 per cent when given to patients early.

What is a monoclonal antibody?

The body’s immune system generates antibodies — specific protein molecules — as a defence mechanism against unfamiliar molecules, called antigens. Molecules from pathogens like bacteria and viruses can act as antigens, prompting the production of antibodies that bind to antigens. This tells specialised cells of the immune system to kill the invading pathogen. Monoclonal antibodies work specifically against a particular portion on an antigen called the epitope, thereby exerting very targeted action.

For example, the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s spike glycoprotein, which sits on its surface, functions to facilitate the virus’s entry into the body’s cells. SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies therefore bind to the spike protein and prevent the virus from entering the cell.

Early access

In less than a month after the treatment was approved, both internationally and in the UAE, Abu Dhabi received the first shipment of the medicine in June as a result of an agreement between the DoH, Abu Dhabi-based procurement firm Rafed, GSK, and Etihad Cargo. The therapy, available as 500mg doses to be administered intravenously, has since been offered to COVID-19 patients at Seha facilities.

According to GSK, the drug treats mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults, and in children aged at least 12 years or weighing at least 40kg.

Based on reports by the DoH announced over the summer, the drug had proven effective in treating COVID-19 in about 97 per cent of patients who had received it.