Regeneron says its antibody therapy prevents COVID-19

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(CNN) - Interim results from an ongoing trial show that Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail prevented COVID-19 among people at high risk of infection, the company said in a news release Tuesday.

The study involved 400 people who were exposed to the coronavirus within their households. Half received injections of the antibody therapy, known as REGEN-COV, and half received a placebo, which does nothing.

The number of infections was lower among those who received the treatment, and they were all asymptomatic, the company said. Among those who received the therapy, infections lasted no more than one week, while 40% of infections in the placebo group lasted three to four weeks. None of the infected people who received the therapy had high viral loads, while 62% of people in the placebo group who were infected had high viral loads.

There was one death and one hospitalization in the group that received the placebo, and no deaths or hospitalizations in the treatment group.

"These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggest that it may both reduce transmission of the virus as well as reduce viral and disease burden in those who still get infected," Dr. George Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron said in a news release.

"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.”

Regeneron expects to see the full data on the study early next quarter, and said it will discuss with the US Food and Drug Administration whether to expand the emergency use authorization for the therapy. The EUA allows it to be used to treat people with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are not currently hospitalized, but are at high risk of developing severe symptoms and requiring hospitalization.

Eli Lilly and Company announced last week its monoclonal antibody combination therapy, known as LY-CoV555 or bamlanivimab, was found to help prevent COVID-19 among nursing home residents and staff in a Phase 3 trial.

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