U.S. buys 1.7M doses of AstraZeneca COVID prevention drug

Feb. 15, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is buying over 1 million doses of AstraZeneca's long-acting COVID-19 antibody therapy, the British company announced today.

The agreement includes the 500,000 additional doses purchased by the U.S. government back in January, and follows the government’s initial agreement for the purchase of 700,000 doses of Evusheld. All told, the total doses purchased by the U.S. come to 1.7 million.

AstraZeneca’s antibody therapy, known as evusheld, is a long-acting antibody combination for the prevention of COVID-19 in immunocompromised people aged 12 and older. Evusheld received emergency use authorization from the U.S. FDA on Dec. 8 for individuals who are heavily immunocompromised or who have had strong negative reactions to past COVID-19 vaccines. It is currently the only drug of its kind on the market that shows protection against omicron and other relevant variants, according to AstraZeneca’s executive vice president Ruud Dobber.

Evusheld is different from COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and GlaxoSmithKline in that it is authorized for COVID-19 prevention pre-exposure in immunocompromised individuals. The treatment was designed to prevent potential resistance to new variants that may emerge.

“With continued cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. and in the wake of the omicron variant, there remains a critical need to provide additional protection to immunocompromised patients who are most vulnerable to the virus,” said Dobber.

AstraZeneca’s other COVID-19 treatments have been less popular than other options available in the U.S. The company’s COVID-19 vaccine is not FDA approved in the U.S. but has been essential in providing vaccination to low-income countries that lack extensive healthcare infrastructure because it does not require the ultra-cold storage that Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines do. The company recently removed a next-generation, beta-specific COVID-19 vaccine from its pipeline after results from a phase 2/3 clinical trial showed 'no meaningful difference' from its predecessor.