US health officials have allowed emergency use of a second antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19.
The treatment, administered to President Donald Trump after he contracted the coronavirus in October, consists of two monoclonal antibodies that target the spike protein used by the virus to enter cells. "Authorizing these monoclonal antibody therapies may help outpatients avoid hospitalization and alleviate the burden on our healthcare system". Early results suggest the drug may reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression, the FDA said. "The safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy for use in the treatment of COVID-19 continues to be evaluated".
This compared to nine percent in placebo-treated patients.
Regeneron said that initial doses will be made available to roughly 300,000 patients through a federal government allocation program. Patients with other conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease also qualify for the drug.
These will be available to USA patients at no out-of-pocket cost under the terms of a United States government program. Its decision comes as USA cases, hospitalizations and deaths all trend upward. The recommended dose is a total of 2,400 milligrams having 1,200 milligrams of each antibody in a single infusion.The treatment is expected to help at a time when COVID-19 cases have surged significantly in the United States. The US has added more than 360,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past two days alone.
Last month, an antibody drug developed by Regeneron against the Ebola virus received full FDA approval, the next step after an EUA.
Covid-19 vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer and Moderna, work by training the immune system to make its own antibodies so they are prepared when they encounter the virus.