Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States has emphasized ratcheting up vaccine production even before federal approval so that, if and when the time comes, the stockpile is ready to go. The same can't be said about a potential treatment known as monoclonal antibodies, however, Stat News reports.
Monoclonal antibodies are pretty much what they sound like — antibodies that have been genetically engineered into new medicines. Immunologists and virologists are reportedly optimistic they could play a role in fighting COVID-19, and data from two separate clinical trials run by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly are expected to be released in the fall, possibly indicating whether the therapies are safe and effective.
But even if they are, it may be too late. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. "may have a missed a window" to scale up production of the treatments, which otherwise "could have been an important bridge to a vaccine." Perhaps more importantly, he added, they could also serve as a "hedge in the event vaccines are delayed or don't work." Ultimately, despite the antibodies' potential to change the tides of the pandemic, Gottlieb said, "we just don't have enough doses to realize that goal." Read more at Stat News.
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