German researchers have found that COVID-19 therapies developed by Eli Lilly and Regeneron lose most of their effectiveness when exposed in laboratory tests to the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
The group of Cologne and Berlin-based scientists found that protection from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir’s antibody cocktail Xevudy held up when exposed to Omicron in a lab experiment but that this was not the case for Lilly’s antibodies bamlanivimab and etesevimab and the antibodies in Regeneron’s Ronapreve drug.
“The neutralizing activity of several monoclonal antibodies is strongly affected against the Omicron variant and will limit treatment options for Omicron-induced COVID-19,” the study authors said in the paper that was posted online on Tuesday.
The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed for publication in a medical journal.
Asked about the findings, Ely Lilly said it expected the efficacy of its antibody combination to be lower.
“Due to the substitutions contained within the spike protein of the Omicron variant of concern, it appears that bamlanivimab with etesevimab is likely to experience reduced neutralization activity,” said a spokesperson.
The company was conducting its own Omicron tests, also including its experimental antibody bebtelovimab, and would report the initial findings as soon as possible.
There was no immediate comment from Regeneron.