“We have 1,000 antibodies that are already sitting in dishes. We’re screening them. We’re selecting them. We anticipate, if all goes well, 200,000 doses per month can come out of our factory in New York, starting in August,” Schleifer told Trump.
The antibodies can block the proteins that allow the virus to latch onto human cells. Cells in the lungs are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 strain of virus, which has similarities to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses.
Trump asked, “That means you’d be able to use the vaccine that early?”
Schleifer replied, “It depends on what we see, how we work closely with the FDA, which we will do. The FDA already reached out to us, but we’ve got to work closely.”
Azar asked why Regeneron could be on a faster timetable than some other companies working on vaccines or therapies and whose representatives were in the room.
“Our drug will be able to protect you,” Schleifer replied. “Whether or not you’re infected, it will protect you from getting infected. Or if you are infected, it would treat you. We have just taken processes that normally take years – literally, years – and we put them end to end and now do them in weeks to months, which nobody else in the industry can do.”
Trump interjected, “So this would be a companion of a vaccine and also it will – to put it a different way – make you better, quicker.”
Schleifer said, “If you get immunized with one of these vaccines, you’re going to make some antibodies to protect you. We’re going to already make those antibodies and give them to you so you don’t have to go through the whole process. So, it’ll protect you. And, as we showed with Ebola, if you give enough of them … it was lifesaving – truly lifesaving. And it beat out the antivirals (a different type of drug). It … was the way to go. It’s very predictable.
“I sense the cautiousness of Dr. Fauci and he’s right to be cautious, because vaccines have to be tested, because there’s precedence for vaccines to actually make diseases worse. You don’t want to rush and treat a million people and find out you’re making 900,000 of them worse.”
“That’s a good idea,” Trump replied.
“We know that this approach worked for Ebola. We know that it worked for MERS in animals. We have a greater degree of confidence that this would work sooner, I think,” Schleifer said, “We’re going to be surprised about what happens over the next couple of months.”
Trump asked if a flu vaccine would have any impact on the coronavirus. Both Schleifer and Fauci said “no.”
Biotech company Regeneron
tags: ALEX AZAR, CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE, COVID-19, DONALD TRUMP, LEONARD SCHLEIFER, MERS, REGENERON, SARS, VICE PRESIDENT PENCE, WHITE HOUSE