These are encouraging results – and, if allowed, the cocktail could be an important tool in fending off the virus. But right now there are only 50,000 doses available, a paltry sum compared to the number of infections across the country.
“It is deeply regrettable that we are heading into the fall without sufficient doses of this drug,” said Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, tweeted after Regeneron released its news. “Many of us were talking about it as early as March. Regeneron did an amazing job securing its own manufacturing, but we needed a concerted industrial effort to get the supply we needed.Indeed, Gottlieb wrote opinion pieces in the spring and summer calling for a government-backed effort to manufacture the antibodies in large quantities – akin to the massive effort to develop experimental, and as yet unproven, Covid vaccines. -19. He reiterated that action must be taken now to build up a sufficient supply to treat high-risk patients.
Most people who contract Covid-19 get better on their own, so to make a material difference in the pandemic’s toll, many people need to be given effective antibody therapies to help a few.
Elil Lilly has also seen encouraging results for his own cocktail of antibodies, but here too the supply is limited.
The potential benefit of these treatments is huge if there were more doses – and if the logistics of their use can be managed. The medicine for Regeneron and that of Eli Lilly must be administered intravenously.
Regeneron has received funding from the U.S. government to ramp up production and has announced a partnership with Roche to further scale up manufacturing. The company hopes to be able to produce 300,000 doses in the coming months. (The dose is a lot of antibodies: 2.4 grams. Many doses of antibodies are measured in milligrams.)
Lilly said she expects to be able to ship 100,000 doses of her unique antibody if regulators cleared it, and that she could produce up to a million doses by the end of the year. But that does mean using a dosage – 0.7 grams – that is lower than what appeared to be most effective in his test with a single antibody (2.8 grams) or at the dose that was used in a test of one. combined antibody, which appears to be more effective.
Companies, by being able to dose for as many people as they have, have moved mountains. But it will not be enough.
As with so much effort to tame this pandemic, every victory is marred by the approach of the next battle.