An infusion of ready-made influenza antibodies had no benefit overall for patients with influenza

15 Nov 2018

Treatment with an infusion of influenza antibodies did not have any benefit overall after seven days for patients with influenza, according to results from the FLU-IVIG study, presented today at the 6th International Society for Influenza and other Respiratory Virus Diseases (ISIRV) conference in Washington, D.C..

The FLU-IVIG study explored whether giving a single infusion of high-dose influenza antibodies (hIVIG) to adults in hospital with moderate to severe influenza can improve recovery time.

Patients were randomised either to receive the hIVIG or to receive an infusion of saline (placebo). Standard antivirals and antibiotics could be used in the study without any restriction. In both arms of the study, 95% of patients received influenza antivirals.

The duration of the study was 28 days. Patients were seen on the day of the infusion, and then on days three, seven, 14 and 28 to assess their health status, take nose swabs for influenza culture and bloods for future influenza research.

It was thought that adding hIVIG would reduce how severe the influenza was, and how long it lasted. It was expected that the benefit would be seen on day seven after the infusion. As expected, the hIVIG caused a rapid increase in the influenza antibody levels in the bloods of the patients. Despite this, there was no significant benefit overall after seven days among the patients who received hIVIG.

Most patients in the study had the most common type of influenza known as influenza A. Approximately one in four patients had a different type of seasonal influenza called influenza B. Although there was no benefit to the study patients overall, there was strong evidence of a benefit of hIVIG for those patients with influenza B.

Further work will now be needed to understand why the observed benefit of hIVIG was limited to patients with influenza B and was not observed in those with influenza A infection.

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