AstraZeneca's COVID drug Evusheld is trending up with a go-ahead from regulators in Europe

Slowly but surely, AstraZeneca’s Evusheld is gaining traction as a unique product to both prevent and treat COVID-19 infection.

Friday, AZ took another step forward with the long-acting antibody cocktail, gaining a positive recommendation from Europe’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for use in people who are infected and at risk of progressing to a severe form of the virus.

The blessing comes at a time when antibodies from other companies are suffering setbacks. Also Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended against the use of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail REGEN-COV and GSK and Vir Biotechnology’s sotrovimab because they are ineffective against the omicron variant.

That decision was not a surprise considering the U.S. grounded both treatments in April because of their inability to work against omicron’s BA.2 subvariant. Meanwhile, in the U.S. and beyond, Pfizer’s oral antiviral Paxlovid has become the predominant treatment for at-risk patients who have been infected by COVID-19.

As for Evusheld, its first approval for use as a treatment for those already infected came last month from Japan, which has ordered 300,000 doses. The U.S. has yet to decide on Evusheld as a post-infection option as it weighs its effectiveness against omicron and its subvariants.

In most countries worldwide, Evusheld has been approved as a prophylaxis for COVID and has provided an important option for those who are immunocompromised and can’t achieve adequate protection from vaccines.

Anticipating the need for Evusheld, the U.S.—which sanctioned its use as a preventive in December—agreed to purchase 1.7 million courses of the cocktail for $855 million.

But Evusheld is not exactly flying off the shelves. After generating sales of $469 million in the first quarter of this year, Evusheld pulled in $445 million in the second quarter. If Friday’s recommendation leads to an authorization, it should help boost sales in Europe, which came in at $143 million over the first half.

As for the WHO, it also has altered its guidance on Gilead’s antiviral Veklury, backing its use against severe COVID but recommending against it for those with a critical form of the virus. Those with critical COVID have respiratory failure, septic shock and/or other organ failures.

The WHO also continues to recommend the use of Veklury for non-severe COVID patients who are at the most risk of progression.