LONDON

A British pharmaceutical company has started clinical trials of an antibody drug to prevent and treat COVID-19, local media reported Tuesday.

The drug is called AZD7442, and is separate from the vaccine being developed by the Oxford University.

The first volunteers, 48 healthy Britons aged between 18 and 55, have already been given their first doses, and the trial aims to research the drug’s safety and how the body reacts to it.

AstraZeneca, the company conducting the trial, said the drug had the potential to act both as a vaccine and treatment to COVID-19.

Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, said: “This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat Covid-19.

“This combination of antibodies, coupled to our proprietary half-life extension technology, has the potential to improve both the effectiveness and durability of use, in addition to reducing the likelihood of viral resistance.”

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