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The Covid-19 pandemic teaches one lesson, over and over: The virus is moving faster than we are.

That difficult message was driven home Wednesday evening with news that an antibody cocktail developed by the drug maker Regeneron — the same cocktail used to treat President Trump —  reduced infected patients’ need to visit the doctor, virtually or in person, or go to the hospital by 57%.

Those are encouraging results — and, if authorized, the cocktail could be an important tool in beating back the virus. But right now, there are only 50,000 doses available, a pittance in comparison with the number of infections across the country.

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“It is deeply unfortunate that we head into fall without enough doses of this drug,” Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, tweeted after Regeneron released its news. “Many of us were talking about this as early as March. Regeneron did extraordinary work to secure their own manufacturing, but we needed a concerted industrial effort to get the supply we needed.”

Indeed, Gottlieb penned op-eds in the spring and summer calling for a government-backed effort to manufacture the antibodies in large volumes — akin to the massive effort to develop experimental, and still unproven, Covid-19 vaccines. He reiterated that action needs to be taken now to accumulate sufficient supply to treat high-risk patients.

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Most people who get Covid-19 get better on their own, so to make a material difference in the pandemic’s toll, effective antibody therapies need to be given to a lot of people to help a few. 

Elil Lilly has also seen encouraging results for its own antibody cocktail, but here too supply is limited.

The potential benefit of such treatments is huge if there were more doses — and if the logistics of using them can be managed. Both Regeneron’s drug and Eli Lilly’s need to be given intravenously.

Regeneron received funding from the U.S. government to ramp up production, and it has announced a partnership with Roche to scale up manufacturing further. The company expects to be able to produce 300,000 doses in the coming months. (The dose is a lot of antibody: 2.4 grams. Many antibody drug doses are measured in milligrams.)

Lilly has said it anticipates being able to ship 100,000 doses of its single antibody if regulators clear it, and could produce as much as a million doses by the end of the year. But that means using a dosage — 0.7 grams — that is lower than the one that appeared most effective in its single-antibody trial (2.8 grams) or the dose that was used in a trial of a combination antibody, which appeared more effective.

The companies, in being able to make doses for as many people as they have, have moved mountains. But it will be not enough. 

As with so many efforts to tame this pandemic, every victory is tainted by the approach of the next battle.

  • Sorrento tiene la cura, solo se necesita que la FDA acelere la aprobación, el mundo necesita estos anticuerpos, ya que serán muy pero muy económicos, tanto ricos y pobres podrán tener acceso a estas terapias, que bueno seria que stat, estudiara a fondo estas terapias de sorrento, solo se necesitan miligramos y no gramos como las terapias de regeneron y de Eli.

  • Sorrento terapéutica tiene los anticuerpos STI-1499 y STI-2020, por que no los aprueban pronto, para ayudar el mundo ya que el costo va a ser muy economico

  • Sorrento’s salicyn-30 shows effective anti-viral effect (Oct 20) as targeted oral treatment. It (and several other small innovative companies) did not receive funding. The Washington money games favoring Big Wig pharma companies limits broader R & D, and that causes delay in development of Covid drugs and vaccines.

  • We need to set up a new system where we can mass produce workable drugs in the millionsssss a day.

    • They need to move fast less talk
      Its a good meds so move faster
      We need this to end now

  • I saw other people mentioning this before.
    A company from San Diego, Sorrento Therapeutics , seems to be way ahead Regeneron and Lily . And apparently their antibody cocktails are more potent and at a lower dose. They have just announced even about antibody nose drops..
    But, of course, they are not a big name (yet) . They did not get any financial aid. So the have the goods but are in the shadow of the big pharma…
    In the meantime more people suffer and even die

  • What about Sorrento Therapeutics ? They have few products on their pipeline more effective in trials than others. no one seems to care and still pumping money on big Pharma companies

  • With only 50,000 doses available, who decides which patient gets it? Trump got it since he is the USPTO? How about Melania? Did he pay for it?

  • Serrento Therapeutics also have the cocktail , you should be investigating there capabilities, lives depend on it

  • still, isn’t clear if the antibody cocktail is actually reducing mortality.
    Let alone the 5/6 figures price the drug will have.

    • The US just bought hundreds of thousands of doses at a price not much over $1000 per patient.

      Re mortality fairly certain this was not an endpoint for Regeneron trial as it was underpowered to demonstrate this. Logically reducing hospitalisation by 75% or so in higher risk patients would make it pretty unusual it doesn’t decrease mortality at all.

      Just approve it already!

    • – yeah, the wording as usual is ambiguous on how many doses it will actually cover. The $1000 price tag is scarcely believable as it would call into question how much both Regeneron and others charge for other monoclonal antibody therapies. The lowest dose trialed has a market value of $50k. When something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
      – the assumption that reducing hospitalization equals reduced mortality is again wishful thinking. Remdesivir reduces hospitalization as well but it has proven ineffective in two trials in reducing mortality.

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