US President Donald Trump has claimed that he was cured of the COVID-19 after being treated with an experimental therapy from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
After Trump hailed the therapy, COVID-19 patients are asking to join clinical trials of antibody-based COVID-19 drugs.
Trump, 74, and First Lady Melania tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The president was taken to a military hospital for treatment, which the White House said was taken as a "matter of abundance caution". After spending four days, he came back to the White House on October 5.
In a video shot outside the White House, Trump credited Regeneron's therapy for his feeling much better than when he was first diagnosed and said he would push for an emergency use authorization (EUA) of that treatment and others like it. He mistakenly said the drug was called Regeneron.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT! pic.twitter.com/uhLIcknAjT
Frequently Asked QuestionsView moreShowView moreHow does a vaccine work?
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.How many types of vaccines are there?
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
What is Regeneron’s therapy for COVID-19?
Regeneron's drug, REGN-COV2, is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies - manufactured copies of antibodies that are one of the main weapons the immune system generates to fight infections.
Late-stage trial of Regeneron’s therapy begins
On October 5, the pharma company said that it began late-stage clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of its antibody cocktail in preventing and treating COVID-19.
The trial, run jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), would test the therapy's ability to prevent infection in those who have had close exposure to a COVID-19 patient.
The late-stage trial, to be conducted across 100 sites and expected to enroll 2,000 patients in the US, begins after an assessment of the antibody cocktail's safety in an early-stage trial by an independent committee.
More COVID-19 patients asking to join clinical trials of antibody-based COVID-19 drug
Dr Gary Kleiner, a pediatric immunologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and investigator in a trial designed to see if Regeneron's antibodies can prevent novel coronavirus infection, said he has been approached by patients seeking the drug since last week.
Dr Dirk Sostman, head of the research network at Houston Methodist Hospital, a trial site for Regeneron and Eli Lilly & Co antibody programs, said more patients are asking to participate in an antibody trial.
Suspicion over contribution of Regeneron's drug to Trump's progress
Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said he was "strongly suspicious" that Regeneron's drug has contributed to Trump's progress. "Obviously you can't prove that until you do a number of studies to show that it actually works," said Fauci while speaking to CNN.
Dr Sostman also said that he was cautious about broader use without more data.
Regeneron has received $450 million from the US government for up to 3,00,000 doses of the dual-antibody cocktail, and the company has said those supplies would be distributed free of charge.
(With inputs from agencies)Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.