A new COVID-19 drug has shown early success in treating infected people and preventing them from dying as well as getting hospitalized.

Sotrovimab, made by pharmaceutical company GSK, was given provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), according to The BL. Over the past few weeks, the monoclonal antibody has been given to some of the COVID-19 patients at major hospitals in Greater Sydney, reported 9News.

Dr David Andresen, a specialist in infectious diseases at St Vincent's Hospital, said, "This is the first drug for which there is really good evidence that it can actually keep people out of hospital in the first place."

He said that they started using the treatment, which is given by intravenous infusion, as quickly as they could because the hospital system is under a lot of stress, so anything they can do to keep patients out of hospital is a good thing.

People who took a single dose showed a 79% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death, as per clinical trials.

For New South Wales (NSW) patients, they should meet certain requirements like it's given within five days of appearance of symptoms, they don't need oxygen supplementation, and have risk factors such as heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes or obesity.

Even though Sotrovimab is the first monoclonal antibody treatment approved for COVID-19 in Australia, it has been used for a longer time in other countries. Dr Andresen said that the data from the trials done overseas were very promising, suggesting that one "can reduce a patient's risk of needing to go to hospital by about three-quarters."

About 7,700 doses were ordered by the government of Australia for its National Medicines Stockpiles. It costs more than US$2,000 per dose, but those under Australia's public health system, can get it for free.

Dr Krystal Evans from GSK said that no patient who was treated with Sotrovimab ended up in ICU or needed a ventilator. The Australian government would order another 22,300 doses, said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Medical experts expect it to be a recommended option for eight to 15% of adults infected with the virus.

It is the first treatment for mild COVID-19, according to Professor Paul Griffin, director of infectious diseases at Mater Health Services, Queensland, Australia.

Nurses and doctors work in the Covid-19 ICU in France
Representationnal image. Photo by Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

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