Govt inks deal for LAAB doses

Govt inks deal for LAAB doses

Back for boosters: People flock to Bang Sue Grand Station to be vaccinated or receive booster shots against Covid-19. The station, the country’s main vaccination centre, has seen a jump in the number of vaccine seekers as the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are spreading fast. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Back for boosters: People flock to Bang Sue Grand Station to be vaccinated or receive booster shots against Covid-19. The station, the country’s main vaccination centre, has seen a jump in the number of vaccine seekers as the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are spreading fast. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Ministry of Public Health signed a contract with AstraZeneca yesterday to procure 257,500 doses of the Long-Acting Antibody (LAAB) drug for people with poor immune systems who cannot get a Covid-19 vaccine.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said there are enough vaccines in the government's stockpile so the Department of Disease Control (DDC) reached an agreement with AstraZeneca to swap some vaccines it planned to procure with the LAAB drug, known as Evusheld. The agreement saved about 120 million baht, he said.

The first 7,000 sets of Evusheld will be delivered to Thailand this month, he said.

Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting antibodies (tixagevimab and cilgavimab) and works on the principle of "passive immunisation". It is administered as two injections, with protection lasting for at least six months.

The DDC plans to initially use the drug for patients living with kidney disease before expanding to other groups, said Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, its director-general.

Thai Food and Drug Administration last week approved the drug use for Covid-19 prevention in people aged 12 years and older and who weigh at least 40 kilogrammes.

While vaccines remain a critically important tool to reduce severe Covid-19 outcomes, some vulnerable populations are unable to develop adequate protection from the vaccine alone, said James Teague, country president of AstraZeneca (Thailand).

"As we transition from pandemic to endemic, AstraZeneca remains committed to ensuring that no one in need of ongoing Covid-19 protection is left behind," he said.

"The long-acting antibody combination provides people at high-risk of Covid-19 infection with another important prevention option alongside vaccination," he added.

According to the University of Oxford, the antibody combination retains its neutralising activity against the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, and all other variants of concern that pose a heightened risk to public health.

Additionally, the drug was proven to reduce the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 compared to placebos by 77% in a primary analysis, and by 83% in a six-month follow-up analysis, according to AstraZeneca.



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