U.S. to begin distributing Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody therapy Tuesday

By Manojna Maddipatla and Carl O'Donnell

(Reuters) - The U.S. government will start distributing Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc's newly authorized COVID-19 antibody combination on Tuesday, beginning with over 30,000 treatment courses, a health official said on Monday.

U.S. officials on a call with reporters said doses will be allocated based on which states have the highest numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations, both of which are currently soaring nationwide.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued emergency use authorization for the treatment called REGN-COV2, which combines two monoclonal antibodies, to be used for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children who are at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19.

Regeneron has said it expects to have enough REGEN-COV2 for about 80,000 patients by the end of this month. It expects to have enough doses to treat about 200,000 patients by the first week of January, rising to some 300,000 patients in total by the end of January.

The antibody cocktail was among the treatments given to U.S. President Trump during his bout with COVID-19 last month. He declared it a virtual "cure" for COVID-19 at the time.

The treatment belongs to a class of biotech drugs known as monoclonal antibodies, which are manufactured copies of antibodies created by the human body to fight infections.

U.S. regulators earlier this month authorized another antibody treatment for COVID-19 from Eli Lilly and Co. Officials on Monday said the department of Health and Human Services has already helped distribute 120,000 doses of Lilly's antibody to patients around the country.

More than 250,000 Americans have also been treated for their COVID-19 with antibody-rich convalescent plasma from recovered patients, officials said. Some health experts have argued that there is not enough data to show that convalescent plasma is an effective treatment.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)