UW Health Doctor says Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody treatment will save lives
MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - As we wait for the FDA to give ‘emergency use authorization’ for a COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA just approved Regeneron’s antibody treatment for the coronavirus.
It’s the same therapeutic that was given to President Donald Trump when he contracted the virus.
“UW Health was one of the first universities to partner with Regeneron to test this therapy,” said Dr. William Hartman, an anesthesiologist who has been the principal investigator for UW’s Regeneron clinical trial.
Since mid-July, Dr. Hartman has been overseeing the hospital’s clinical trial.
“It’s a combination of two antibodies. So very similar with what we see with convalescent plasma, where it’s able to neutralize the virus when you use it early in the disease,” said Dr. Hartman. “Monoclonal antibodies are just two antibodies that are very very specific for that spike protein on the virus so they are able to bind to that and it prevents the virus from entering the cells and its damaging effects.”
The hope is that by intervening early on with antibodies, it could prevent the patient from getting sicker or having to go to the ICU or put on a ventilator.
“It Just gives you this immune boost that you didn’t have already and allows you to really stop the virus in its tracks, so it can’t make you sicker,” said Dr. Hartman.
Lane Manning got COVID-19 back in September and decided to be part of the intravenous antibody clinical trial. He believes he got the antibody treatment because he got better a lot sooner than his daughter or sister who also contracted the virus.
“The big thing we noticed was that I got better faster than the other two, which is why I think I got the drug,” said Manning.
Because the trial is known as a ‘double blind placebo controlled trial’, neither Manning or Dr. Hartman know if he got the antibody treatment or a placebo. Dr. Hartman said this type of trial is the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to medical research because all participants are essentially ‘blind’ to maintain the integrity of the trial.
“The only people that know will be the company as it analyzes the data, and then the FDA and the independent Safety Board that evaluates this data,” said Dr. Hartman.
Although Dr. Hartman doesn’t know which patients got the treatment or placebo, he said the FDA’s approval for the outpatient treatment means they are confident in the data received.
“There’s really no other therapies out there right now to treat COVID-19 as an outpatient and keep patients out of the hospital and from overwhelming our system,” said Dr. Hartman.
The drug will be in limited supply, which means not everyone will automatically get it.
“As long as they meet those three criteria -- of having a positive test, having symptoms and comorbidities that put them more at risk. I think they’d be a good candidate for this therapy,” said Dr. Hartman.
As we wait for a vaccine, Dr. Hartman said this will save lives and ease the burden in hospitals by keeping people out of the ICU and off ventilators.
“This is going to be an effective treatment that people should trust,” said Dr. Hartman. “Now that we have a therapy that can be used in out patients to prevent them from ever even having to be admitted to the hospital, much less to ICU or be intubated, this is great news that will hopefully allow us to alleviate some of that burden on our health system.”
Manning, who strongly believes in medical research, said he’s just happy to be part of it.
“I want it gone away so I hope that I helped drive that forward in one way or another,” said Manning.
Regeneron hopes to have 80,000 doses available by the end of the month, 200,000 by the end of the year and by January 2021, close to 300,000 doses available to people.
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