New Covid-19 treatments ‘will be available in France later this year’

New Covid-19 treatments 'will be available in France later this year'
Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP
New Covid-19 treatments should be widely available in France before the end of the year, the head of the country's Scientific Council has predicted.

Jean-François Delfraissy, an immunologist and president of the Conseil scientifique which advises the government on medical matters, told Le Parisien newspaper that monoclonal and polyclonal antibody treatments would be made more widely available in the coming months.

Monoclonal antibody treatments are made using Covid-19 survivors’ own antibodies and are designed to fight infection just as the natural immune system would. Former US President Donald Trump received monoclonal antibody drugs when he was hospitalised with Covid-19 in 2020.

At the beginning of August, French health authorities gave the green light for the use of monoclonal antibody treatments for immuno-compromised patients whose health situation meant that they could not be vaccinated against the virus. 

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The treatments are set to be rolled out for use as required by doctors among the wider population before the end of the year, as a number of pharmaceutical companies apply for medical authorisation.

They would be “effective for high-risk patients, and should reduce the number of hospitalisations”, the capital’s daily newspaper reported, but would only be available under medical supervision.

The drugs are intended for use in people who are already severely ill with Covid, do not prevent people developing the illness in the first place. 

Doctors have been cautious about backing treatments ever since the hydroyxchlorine debacle, a drug widely touted as a ‘cure’ for Covid that was eventually proved to be ineffective. 

Delfraissy’s public backing for the antibody treatments came as the head of infectious and tropical diseases at Tenon Hospital in Paris revealed that 90 percent of patients with Covid-19 being treated at the establishment were unvaccinated.

“It is an epidemic of the unvaccinated,” Gilles Pialoux told BFMTV on Wednesday. “The pressure is coming from the unvaccinated.”

Monoclonal antibody drugs are currently under rolling review by the European Medicines Agency, but it has already issued supporting advice in an effort to guide national decisions before official approval. The European Commission signed a deal for the treatments in April. 

Meanwhile, Delfraissy also said that a third vaccine dose would be necessary ‘for a large part of the vaccinated population’.

“I will be vaccinated a third time as soon as I can do it,” the 73-year-old told France 2.

The Haute Autorité de santé has recommended that anyone over 65 and those with ‘co-morbities that increase the risk of serious forms’ of the disease should receive a third vaccine dose, in a campaign that is expected to start in October.

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