GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR) recently reported results from a confirmatory study evaluating antibody therapy sotrovimab in treating non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on June 23, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss what investors should know about these results.
Keith Speights: Well, you mentioned GlaxoSmithKline and Vir. Let's talk about some of their recent news.
The two companies recently reported some good results for their monoclonal antibody therapy, sotrovimab, in treating non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Brian, what are the key takeaways for investors from these results?
Brian Orelli: This was a confirmatory study. The drug is already on the market with the Emergency Use Authorization based on preliminary data that show the drug reduced hospitalizations of more than 24 hours or death, so that's anybody who either dies or is hospitalized for more than 24 hours gets counted here, and the drug reduced it by 85 percent compared to a placebo.
In the larger study that was just released, the reduction was 79 percent, so that's still quite impressive. The numbers are fairly small, six in the treatment arm versus 30 in the placebo.
The company said that three of those six were hospitalized but they might have actually been hospitalized for COVID-19. One had a small bowel obstruction, one had lung cancer, another one had diabetic foot ulcers, so they get counted because that's what the endpoint is: whether you were in a hospital for 24 hours -- and they were -- so they got counted in the readout. But realistically, probably the data is actually better than what the company had to say.
Again, I think the big issue here with these antibodies is that they're approved for mild to moderate COVID-19, for patients who are at high risk for progression to severe disease. Hopefully, most people who are at high risk for progression are getting vaccinated, and then it's administered intravenously, and GlaxoSmithKline and Vir are testing an intramuscular injection so that might improve the usage.
But right now, it has to be administered intravenously, which can mean somebody with COVID-19 has to sit for 30 minutes and get an infusion. When they do infusions for cancer patients, they can all sit in the same room and they can have a nurse monitoring them, but obviously, that's not going to be the case where COVID-19 patients they'll probably have to be sitting individually in a room isolated and that makes things a little more complex for administration.
Then the third issue is that it's supposed to be administered within 10 days before the patient gets symptoms and before they need to be going to the hospital. So, as I said, as COVID cases wane down, I think people are going to probably wait a little bit longer than they would because they're probably just thinking they have the flu, and that's going to make it too late for doctors to use the antibody treatments.