Prior to receiving national permission, a medical tourism region in China’s southern province of Hainan approved the use of an antibody cocktail developed by AstraZeneca Plc (NASDAQ: AZN) to prevent COVID-19, according to local media.

As part of various favorable rules given to the zone to encourage medical services to tourists from both domestic and foreign markets, China permits the early use of innovative medical items in the special region in Qionghai city.

Evushield offers protection to immunocompromised individuals 

A consignment of the antibody-based medication Evusheld from AstraZeneca, valued at 21.98 million yuan ($3.28 million), has successfully gone through Hainan customs’ special imports processes, according to the regional Communist Party authority-backed newspaper Hainan Daily.

In many countries, including the US, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, the medication has been approved for use in preventing infections in persons whose immune systems are too frail to respond to vaccinations.

The cocktail helps people with problems in building immunity with COVID-19 vaccines to have adequate protection against the virus. Evushield, a combination of monoclonal antibodies (cilgavimab and tixagevimab) developed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,  offers protection to immunocompromised individuals comparable to that healthy individuals receive from the vaccines. In the US, individuals above 12 years and weighing around 88 pounds will qualify to receive Evushield dose that offers protection for six months. 

Without going into any information regarding any future plans for the medication in China, an AstraZeneca spokesman simply stated that they expect Evusheld to be available in more nations as soon as feasible.

Other drugs are approved in the zone but not nationally 

The breast cancer drug Piqray from Novartis and the antifungal medication AmBisome from Gilead are two other Western medications that have not yet been approved for usage on a national level but are now offered in Hainan’s Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone.

The popular cancer drug Keytruda from Merck was also authorized for importation into the region in 2016 before receiving national approval two years later.