Patients hospitalised with COVID-19 infections will soon have access to a new treatment that could prevent death.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Friday the provisional approval of GlaxoSmithKline's sotrovimab, making it available for use in hospitals next week.
He said the monoclonal antibody mimics the body's immune system and is likely to help about eight to 13 per cent of patients.
"So it's not a result for everybody but it's particularly likely to help those who are at risk of progressing to very serious illness," Mr Hunt said.
"It is the first but not last treatment that's likely to improve prospects."
The antibodies bind to the virus, stop it entering host cells and help fight off already infected cells in the lungs and airways.
Clinical trialist Paul Griffin, an infectious diseases specialist and clinical microbiologist at Mater in Queensland, said the treatment will help those most vulnerable to the virus.
"New treatment options have the potential to keep people out of hospital, prevent their disease from progressing and reduce the burden on the health system," he said.
Australia is the first OECD country to issue a formal regulatory approval for sotrovimab.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration's approval of the treatment, under strict conditions, targets adults and adolescents who are at increased risk of hospitalisation or death.
Vaccination remains the preferred and primary option to prevent COVID-19, supported by mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing.
"We also need to have a range of interventions available if people do become infected, to keep people out of hospital and reduce the severity of the disease," GSK Australia spokeswoman Krystal Evans said.
The government has secured 7700 doses of sotrovimab for the national medical stockpile.
Australian Associated Press
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