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March 19, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – EMA and MHRA deem AZ vaccine safe after blood clots investigation – Lilly’s Covid-19 therapy bamlanivimab suspended in three US states due to viral variant

By Chris Lo

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have confirmed the safe use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, reiterating that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. While a detailed review on any link between the vaccine and blood clots is currently underway, the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) concluded that AstraZeneca’s vaccine did not raise the overall risk of thromboembolic events.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that the government is no longer distributing Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 drug bamlanivimab in Arizona, California and Nevada because of a viral variant that is prevalent in the states and may not be susceptible to the monoclonal antibody. FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock said the agency will screen monoclonal antibody treatments against different variants.

University of Oxford scientists have released data on the antibody levels that can neutralise or stop infection from Covid-19 variants such those prevalent in Brazil, South Africa, the UK and elsewhere. The data suggests that natural and vaccine-induced antibodies can neutralise these variants, but at lower levels. The data also revealed the P1 Brazilian strain to be less resistant to vaccine and convalescent immune responses than feared earlier, when compared to the UK and South African variants.

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