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Friday, December 8, 2023

New COVID-19 prevention treatment approved

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Australia’s medical regulator has approved a COVID-19 treatment to help prevent infection among those medically unable to be vaccinated against the virus.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval to AstraZeneca’s Evusheld for use as a pre-exposure prevention measure.

Evusheld has been granted approval for people who aren’t likely to have an adequate immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine due to being immunocompromised.

The treatment can also be used for people who aren’t recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine due to a history of severe reactions to the immunisation.

Evusheld has been approved for people 12 and over who weigh at least 40 kilograms.

The treatment is delivered as two separate injections of long-acting antibodies, which bind to spike proteins of COVID-19 at different sites.

A TGA spokesman said Evusheld would stop the virus from entering the body’s cells and causing an infection.

“Pre-exposure prevention with Evusheld is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended,” the spokesman said.

The Federal Government has secured 36,000 treatment courses of Evusheld from AstraZeneca.

Approval was granted for the treatment following safety trials.

It comes as several jurisdictions moved to ease their indoor mask mandates on Friday.

NSW relaxed its restrictions from Friday morning, while the ACT will ease its rules at 6pm and Victoria at midnight.

In NSW, masks will only be required in high-risk settings such as public transport, aged care facilities and hospitals.

Residents are recommended to still use face masks in indoor areas where physical distancing can’t always be maintained, such as shopping centres.

Mask wearing will also be scrapped for high school students and staff from Monday, whereas staff and visitors at primary schools and childcare will need to wait until March 7 for mask rules to ease.

However, masks will still be required for high school students in the ACT, even after Canberra’s rules ease.

Otherwise, similar restrictions will be in place in the national capital as in NSW, with masks only needed in high-risk areas.

Victoria will have to wait a few hours longer for the state’s mask mandates to be scrapped.

Staff at hospitality venues will still have to wear masks indoors, while students in years three to six will have to wear masks in the classroom.

Masks will be required in high-risk locations, along with outdoor gatherings where more than 30,000 people are attending.


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