Listen Live

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals says its current monoclonal antibody cocktail has “diminished potency” against the omicron variant.

>> Read more trending news

In a statement Thursday, the company said that while its REGEN-COV treatment appears to be less effective against omicron, the antibodies remain active against delta.

Regeneron added that it has identified “multiple ‘next generation’ monoclonal antibodies” from its collection that are active against both omicron and delta, as well as other known variants of concern, according to Reuters.

“Pending regulatory discussions, we anticipate entering the clinic” for trials “in the first quarter of 2022,” Regeneron said.

>> Coronavirus: Regeneron says antibody cocktail reduced infection risk by nearly 82% over 8 months

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the treatment for emergency use in COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms, Reuters previously reported. The agency later said the treatment could be used preventatively in patients who have been exposed or have a high risk of exposure to the virus.

>> Omicron: Variant to become dominant strain in EU by mid-January, official says

Regeneron’s latest statement came just two days after a preliminary South African study found that the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is about 70% effective at preventing hospitalizations but offers only 33% protection against infection as the omicron variant drives a resurgence of cases in the country. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, also found that omicron may cause less severe symptoms than previous variants, according to The Associated Press.

>> Omicron: South African study says Pfizer shots 70% effective against COVID-19 hospitalization

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech said an initial lab study demonstrated that a booster dose of their vaccine appeared to “neutralize” the omicron variant. The third dose increased neutralizing antibodies against omicron 25-fold compared to two doses, the companies said in a news release. That study also has not been peer-reviewed, the AP reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Tuesday that 3% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were caused by the omicron variant, The Wall Street Journal reported. The World Health Organization said at least 77 countries have identified omicron cases, according to Agence France-Presse and France 24.