Regeneron Drug Could be Less Effective vs. Omicron

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:RGEN) COVID-19 antibody cocktail, and similar drugs, could be less effective against the omicron coronavirus variant, the company said on Tuesday.

The drugmaker said analysis shows the individual mutations present in the omicron variant indicate “there may be reduced neutralization activity of both vaccine-induced and monoclonal antibody conveyed immunity”.

Further analyses are ongoing to confirm and quantify this potential impact using the actual omicron variant sequence, Regeneron said, adding that there was no direct data yet on whether the antibodies or vaccines confer less protection.

The comments follow Moderna’s (NASDAQ:MRNA) chief executive officer, who said COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the omicron variant as they have been previously.
The comments set off fresh alarm bells in financial markets on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization and scientists have also said it could take weeks to understand whether omicron is likely to cause severe illness or escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines.

Vaccine makers are already preparing for a situation where their current vaccines are less effective against the new variant, with several companies announcing on Monday that they had begun work on vaccines tailored for omicron.

Regeneron said its COVID-19 antibody cocktail co-developed with Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) loses effectiveness against the variant. Meanwhile, the paper cited outside scientists as saying that the antibody-drug from Eli Lilly (LLY) was also not as effective against Omicron, which is said to harbor more than 30 mutations in its Spike protein.

RGEN shares let go of 89 cents to $290.29.

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