Early tests of the new experimental drug suggest it could well “break the chain” of rising coronavirus infections, makers claim. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biotechnology company, claims its new drug REGEN-COV is 100% effective in stopping symptomatic cases of coronavirus. The company also claim the drug reduces coronavirus infection rates overall by around 50%. These claims have been made from interim results, the “confirmatory stage” of the trial set to be completed by this year’s second quarter.
The drug is also currently was being trialled by the NHS and has now been cleared and approved for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), who have said that the drug, marketed as Ronapreve “…could help prevent infection, resolve symptoms of severe Covid-19 and reduce the chances of admission to hospital.” The drug is however, not intended to be a substitute for vaccination, rather another weapon in the armoury to fight Covid-19.
The drug, REGEN-COV, is a two-antibody cocktail, the antibodies claimed to work by binding to a protein on the virus’s surface and subsequently blocking infection. UK Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said of the development: “This treatment will be a significant addition to our armoury to tackle Covid-19…”
Great news from @MHRAgovuk today that they’ve approved a brand new monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19.
We’re now working quickly with the NHS to roll this out to patients as soon as possible.https://t.co/Ku6cH2uIqY
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) August 20, 2021
Regeneron was provided with $450 million as part of the USA’s Operation Warp Speed in July 2020, to fund and speed up efforts to treat Covid-19, manufacturing and supplying its treatment, REGN-COV. By November 2020, the treatment had acquired emergency authorisation from the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What is REGEN-COV by Regeneron?
REGEN-COV, by Regeneron is an ‘antibody cocktail,’ comprising a mixture of monoclonal antibodies (those which can be traced back to specific ‘parent’ white blood cells), meaning the antibodies produced are specifically targeted at the cells and virus in question, in this case, SARS-COV-2 [Covid-19].
Although the concept of using specific antibodies which are specifically targeted at something is not all that new (incidentally, TechRound’s Editor’s university dissertation covers this topic…), as a therapeutic for coronavirus, this may prove to be a significant breakthrough in the coming months and years.
REGN-COV is specifically designed to clock the infectivity of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus. In 100% of those tested, Regeneron’s treatment prevented symptomatic infection, an outstanding achievement. The treatment also cut rates of infection by am impressive 50%.
It should be stated that the results have not yet been peer reviewed and there is more research and work to be done. However, once again, the power of science does seem to be coming to our collective rescue, giving renewed hope for the coming months and indeed years.
Who Will REGEN-COV Be Available To?
So far, the plan for REGEN-COV is to use it on people needing “immediate protection,” for example, those who have either been in contact with or who live with someone who has COVID-19. Alongside this, the drug can also be used on those who do not respond well to vaccination, such as the clinically extremely vulnerable and the immunosuppressed, delivering the virus-fighting antibodies directly to the body as opposed to triggering the body’s immune system to develop these on its own.
Regeneron’s President and Chief Scientific Officer George D Yancopoulos said that “Even with the emerging availability of active vaccines, we continue to see hundreds of thousands of people infected daily, actively spreading the virus to their close contacts. The REGEN-COV antibody cocktail may be able to help break this chain by providing immediate passive immunity to those at high risk of infection, in contrast to active vaccines which take weeks to provide protection.”
This is not the first time REGEN-COV has surfaced in the news, with Donald Trump, former president of the US, claiming that this drug “cured” him last year when he contracted COVID-19.
“A World in Which Coronavirus May Be More Treatable”
Claims of REGEN-COV’s effectiveness comes as the UK’s COVID death toll passes 100,000, NHS England’s head Sir Simon Stevens expressing his hope for more treatments to become available for the future.
Sir Stevens stated in a recent press conference “Fundamentally the driver of the death rate is the infection rate, set against that we are seeing continuing improvements in hospital treatment for severely sick coronavirus patients.”
“We do expect that there will be more treatments for coronavirus looking out over the next six to 18 months, perhaps. We’ve already seen those with some of the corticosteroids, some of the rheumatoid arthritis drugs that have been repurposed, there are antivirals in the pipeline. So, looking out, I think we can see a world in which coronavirus may be more treatable.”
Regeneron’s Chief Scientist shed some more light on the treatment…
Donald Trump’s Regeneron Treatment
Back in October 2020 when then US President Donald Trump confirmed that he and First Lady Melania tested positive for Covid-19, there was much speculation about how the most powerful man in the world at the time would be treated for coronavirus, a virus that had already killed over a million people globally. He displayed known risk factors hen it came to coronavirus including his age (in his 70s) and his notoriously unhealthy daily diet.
When he came out and said he had been treated with a therapeutic (a “cure”) called Regeneron, he was immediately ridiculed and it was said that ‘Regeneron’ was an unproven method of treating and preventing the potentially deadly Covid-19 virus.
Turns out, that whilst there is much to make fun of former President Trump about, this may not be one of those things…he may have actually been on to something…turns out there is initially promising evidence that Regeneron may soon prove to be a breakthrough therapeutic for Covid-19…