An employee at the TestGene c ompany developing and manufacturing molecular genetics test kits (Photo Credit: Yegor Aleyev/TASS)

A medicine that can potentially prevent people exposed to novel coronavirus from developing COVID-19 is now being tested in the United Kingdom, the Guardian reported on its website Friday.

The medicine, based on monoclonal antibodies created in a laboratory, was developed by UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University College London Hospitals.

“If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus,” said Dr Catherine Houlihan, a UCLH virologist who is leading a study into the drug.

Scientists hope that people from high-risk groups will be protected from COVID-19 for a period of between six months and one year. It is also expected to be effective in cases when vaccination is too late, for example if offered to someone after close contact with a virus carrier.

Developers expect the medicine to hit shelves in the UK in March or April 2021, if clinical trials are successful and it is approved by the country’s healthcare regulators.