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US okays Covid-19 therapy as G20 talks vaccine

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A nurse attends to a patient suffering from Covid-19 in an Athens suburb on November 20, 2020. AFP

US okays Covid-19 therapy as G20 talks vaccine

US drug regulators gave emergency approval to a Covid-19 antibody therapy on November 21 and Group of 20 (G20) nations pushed for global access to vaccines as the pandemic led to further closures in parts of the world.

With cases surpassing 12 million in the US, the highest in the world, some US states have imposed new restrictions, including California, where a 10pm to 5am curfew was taking effect.

On the opposite side of the Atlantic, Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from Covid-19, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.

The antibody therapy approval in the US offers some hope for those infected, though a relatively small number of doses will be available in the coming weeks.

The same therapy was used to treat President Donald Trump when he was sickened with the virus.

The green light for drugmaker Regeneron came after REGN-COV2, a combination of two lab-made antibodies, was shown to reduce Covid-19-related hospitalisations or emergency room visits in patients with underlying conditions.

Regeneron’s antibody treatment is the second synthetic antibody treatment to receive an emergency use approval (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after a similar therapy developed by Eli Lilly was granted the status on November 9.

Despite recent developments, there are concerns that countries across the world will have insufficient access to vaccines, and G20 nations gathered for a virtual summit on November 21 highlighted those worries.

“Although we are optimistic about the progress made in developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics tools . . . we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all people,” said Saudi King Salman, the summit’s host.

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