Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies offer months of protection against Covid-19 and could be given to people whose immune systems are not adequately protected by vaccines, CEO Len Schleifer told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.
Schleifer’s comments came after Regeneron released data suggesting his single-dose antibody cocktail reduced the risk of contracting the virus by nearly 82% for two to eight months. Regeneron’s monoclonal agents have been given intravenously to treat up to moderate Covid symptoms during the pandemic and reduce the chances of hospitalization for high-risk patients, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
“If you want to protect people at the population level, vaccines are the best way – they’re cheap and you can make billions of doses,” Schleifer said. “But our data now shows that antibodies are the key player in that they are sufficient.”
“You may not need cellular immunity. She could add something, but antibodies are enough to protect you from contracting Covid-19 based on this data, ”he added.
Eventually, people with immunocompromised diseases could receive Regeneron’s monoclonals up to every five or six months, “and they would be protected as if they were vaccinated,” Schleifer said. He said treatment could be given selectively to people at high risk for Covid complications and key workers with immunization concerns.
But Schleifer noted that, in his opinion, Regeneron couldn’t produce enough antibodies at an affordable price to make them as widely used as vaccines.
“If you are in the military, a teacher or are on the front lines and you are legitimately afraid, this can perhaps be offered as an alternative. We have to discuss that,” said Schleifer. “But the data – leave politics aside – the data say that antibodies can protect you from infection with Covid-19.”
Regeneron’s antibodies target Covid’s spike protein to prevent the virus from entering cells, according to the FDA. The agency adds that monoclonal antibodies “mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens.”
Regeneron isn’t the only company to reveal promising data on its treatment for Covid in the past few weeks. Pfizer announced on Friday that its coronavirus antiviral pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk adults by 89% after treatment was combined with an HIV drug to help keep it in the body longer.
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics also released data in October on an antiviral pill that they believed reduced hospital admissions and deaths from Covid by 50% in patients with mild or moderate cases.