The Rame Group Practice, in Torpoint, is one of only 9 UK sites offering its patients the chance to receive Aztra Zeneca’s COVID-19 long-acting antibody (LAAB) combination, AZD7442, as part of a global Phase III clinical trial programme.

The trial, which opened locally yesterday, will recruit 5,000 participants globally to evaluate the safety and efficacy of AZD7442 to prevent infection from COVID-19 for up to 12 months. Locally, 100 volunteers from the Torpoint area are needed to take part. The trial will enrol adults who are at increased risk of inadequate response to vaccination or increased risk of COVID-19 infection. 

Currently, there are 9 identified sites in the UK situated in Torpoint, Manchester, London, Southampton, West Yorkshire, Enfield, Rochdale and Preston. Additional sites are under evaluation.

Dr Lawrence Barnes from Rame Group Practice said he was honoured that the Torpoint based surgery had been selected to conduct the study. He said: “We recruited our first two patients yesterday and are excited about offering the opportunity to be involved in such an important study to more people.  Our patients have always been very proactive around research and I am sure will relish the chance to help in the fight against COVID by assisting with the study.”

The NHS vaccines registry will invite 5,000 participants to the study and they are also calling on more people to volunteer.

Long-acting antibodies mimic natural antibodies and have the potential to treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected with the virus, as well as to be given as a preventative intervention prior to exposure to the virus. A LAAB combination could be complementary to vaccines as a prevention for COVID-19, e.g. for people for whom a vaccine may not be appropriate or to provide added protection for high-risk populations. It could also be used to treat people who have been infected.

Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca said: “This is an exciting milestone in the development of our long-acting antibody combination, which has the potential to provide an immediate and long-lasting effect in both preventing and treating COVID-19 infection. We are thrilled that the UK is the first country to begin this important Phase III trial. Through our development programme, we will be evaluating AZD7442 in different settings including prophylaxis and outpatient treatment, with a focus on helping the most vulnerable people.”

Prof Andrew Ustianowski, Joint National Specialty Lead for Infection, National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and Chief Investigator of the study said: “This is a really exciting development in the fight against COVID-19, which takes a very different approach to other studies involving vaccines. Vaccines work mainly by inducing a person’s immune system to produce antibodies that inhibit or ‘neutralise’ the virus, but some people don’t respond well to vaccines, or cannot be given them.

What we are investigating in this study is whether we can provide protection by giving antibodies, that have been shown to neutralise the virus, by injection into the muscle. The hope is that this will then provide good protection for many months against infection.”

Head of the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, said: “It’s crucial that we leave no one behind as we move closer to finding both a vaccine and developing more treatments for COVID-19. We particularly need to ensure those cannot be given a vaccine, such as people who are immunocompromised, have alternatives available that will help protect them.

That’s why we are working at pace to recruit people into this study to find the long-term solutions we need for a range of people as quickly as possible.”