COVID treatments like the experimental antibody therapeutic Trump received are making progress

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Among the various experimental COVID-19 drugs and supplements that President Trump received during his stay at Walter Reed hospital, one of the most closely-watched is a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies being developed by Regeneron.

The company had released preliminary data suggesting that this approach, which combines lab-created antibodies in order to treat a variety of diseases, suggesting that it was successful in preventing serious hospitalization in patients who weren’t too far along in showing coronavirus symptoms.

On Wednesday, another company, the drug giant Eli Lilly, said that it had seen similar results using this method and is confident enough to seek Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA).

Similar to Regeneron’s claims and the clinical trial data it’s unveiled to date, Eli Lilly’s antibody cocktail was able to significantly reduce viral load (the amount of virus active) in patients who received the treatment within 11 days and significantly slashed the need for emergency room use or hospitalization. The experimental therapies are called LY-CoV555 and LY-CoV016, and they prevent the coronavirus from actually latching on to and infecting cells.

With two consecutive drugs showing that the antibody cocktail method could be significantly effective, other companies may dig into that same approach.

However, these treatments are showing efficacy (and, importantly, a lack of serious side effects) in those with mild-to-moderate COVID cases. The seriously ill who are already hospitalized could be a different story.

Availability is a key detail that needs to be worked out since mass production of an antibody drug is far more complicated than creating simpler chemical treatments.

Lilly has previously said that it will be able to produce 100,000 doses of one of its antibody therapies in October since it had already considered manufacturing while creating the drug. Tens of thousands more doses of the combination therapy could be available later this year, the company said in an emailed press release.

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