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France authorizes a first treatment with monoclonal antibodies

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The National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) temporarily authorizes a new type of treatment against Covid-19. The Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced it during the press conference Thursday, February 25. This medication uses monoclonal antibodies and may be used on patients at greatest risk.

Antibodies are produced by the immune system to respond to infection. Those called monoclonal are made in the laboratory and cloned to mimic the action of natural antibodies. They specifically attack viruses before they enter human cells.

These monoclonal antibodies are not new. They have been used for about thirty years in particular to treat certain cancers. This type of therapy made the news last October when the former President of the United States Donald Trump had benefited from it.

Read also: Covid-19: Germany authorizes the experimental treatment used on Donald Trump

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If for the Minister of Health this treatment represents a hope, it is however reserved only for certain patients: people over the age of 80 and those with a weakened immune system such as dialysis patients or transplant recipients.

As this treatment has so far only received temporary authorization, it can only be prescribed in the hospital where patients receive an infusion, maximum 5 days after the onset of the first symptoms. This implies a logistical effort for hospitals and also financial: a dose costs between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. But this price is still lower than that of a day of resuscitation.

Despite the uncertainties associated with this treatment, the monoclonal antibodies would be effective against the English variant, the most common version of the virus in France. To date, 83 hospitals have already received doses to be administered.

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