Pharmaceutical company Regeneron announced it is beginning its late-stage clinical trials for its new COVID-19 antibody drug, which aims to prevent and treat infections. This trial involves testing the drug, called REGN-COV2, for preventing COVID-19 patients from infecting people they have had close contact with, such as their roommates.
Regeneron said that they are working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), under the National Institutes of Health. They plan to use REGN-COV2 to treat COVID-19 patients in the hospital and at home. Regeneron expects 2,000 participants. Of these, 1,850 are in the hospital, while 1,050 are at home. The testing sites stretch from the United States to Brazil, Mexico, and Chile.
Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, Regeneron President and Chief Scientific Officer, said that they are striving to fast-track the production of a COVID-19 drug. He also welcomed collaboration with NIAID to create a coronavirus treatment “that could be available much sooner than a vaccine.” The company hopes to produce the drug even while the pandemic surges.
CNN also reports that Regeneron has received $450 million from the federal government to manufacture and supply coronavirus treatments. The grant is part of the government’s vaccine program called “Operation Warp Speed,” under the US Department of Defense. Drug companies agreed with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the Defense Department to produce drugs that the public can get immediately. After successful clinical trials, the US Food and Drug Administration will authorize these companies to distribute the treatment to the public.
As part of this agreement, Regeneron has ramped up production of the drug. Regeneron has also said that they will make their drug available in the US for free.
In a statement to CNN, Regeneron co-founder and CEO Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer said that their agreement with BARDA “could help REGN-COV2 reach many people quickly.” He also hoped that their drug could “change the course of this deadly and still-raging pandemic.”
Regeneron joins other companies, such as Eli Lilly and AbCellera, that received government grants to create COVID-19 treatments. If their drugs pass extensive clinical trials, businesses could reopen sooner, and the economy could restart faster. Meanwhile, quarantines remain worldwide, leading to stores closing. Other companies struggle with shifting and rising consumer demand.