Science

Covid-19: Regeneron treatment approved, 12 million cases in the United States

Faced with a galloping Covid-19 epidemic which has infected 12 million people on its territory, the United States urgently authorized an innovative treatment from the firm Regeneron already tried on President Donald Trump.

The United States is by far the most bereaved country in the world by the coronavirus with 255,800 deaths. The epidemic is growing out of control and the number of new daily cases is exploding (nearly 164,000 for the day of Saturday alone) to now exceed 12 million patients, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Faced with this scourge, the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) on Saturday granted urgent authorization to a cocktail of synthetic antibodies from the biotechnology company Regeneron. This treatment is known to have been administered to Donald Trump, who had widely touted it after recovering from Covid-19 in October.

According to the FDA, REGEN-COV2 treatment, a combination of two laboratory-made antibodies, has been shown to reduce Covid-19-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits in patients with secondary illnesses or “co-morbidities”.

“Allowing these monoclonal antibody therapies could allow patients to avoid hospitalization and ease the burden on our health care system,” said FDA official Stephen Hahn.

– “Promising therapy” –

Regeneron President Leonard Schleifer assured that this decision was “an important step in the fight against Covid-19, because high-risk patients in the United States will have access to a promising therapy at the start of their infection.”

These antibodies mimic what the immune system does after infection with the coronavirus, by going to block the tip of the virus that allows it to attach to and penetrate human cells.

The FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland in July 2020 (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / Archives – Sarah Silbiger)

The treatment is considered to be more effective during the initial phase of the infection, when the antibodies still have a chance to control the invader, and not during the second phase of Covid-19, when the danger is no longer the virus. – even but the overreaction of the immune system which attacks the lungs and other organs.

Regeneron is the second synthetic antibody treatment to receive “Emergency Use Clearance” (EUA) from the FDA. A similar therapy developed by the American laboratory Eli Lilly had already obtained this status on November 9.

Regeneron has already signed several contracts with the US government, including one for $ 450 million, to manufacture large-scale doses in the United States. The government also announced at the end of October the purchase of 300,000 doses of Lilly’s treatment for $ 375 million, or $ 1,250 per dose.

The authorization granted to Regeneron adds to the good news on the vaccine front, with efficacy rates of around 95% for those developed by the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna laboratories.

– “Unprecedented vaccination” –

Covid-19: orders for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (AFP - Bertille LAGORCE)

Covid-19: orders for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (AFP – Bertille LAGORCE)

Italy, where the pandemic has killed more than 48,000 people, will begin an “unprecedented vaccination campaign” at the end of January, starting with the most exposed categories of the population, Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza announced on Saturday.

The pandemic has killed at least 1.373 million people worldwide since the WHO office in China reported the onset of the disease at the end of December 2019, according to a report established by AFP from official sources Saturday.

Over 57.5 million cases have been officially diagnosed across the planet.

In Europe, lockdowns and other restrictions imposed on the population in many countries to cope with the second wave of the epidemic are beginning to bear fruit. In France, where the numbers of new cases, deaths and intensive care admissions are decreasing, the authorities believe that the peak of the second epidemic wave has undoubtedly been crossed.

In Covent Garden, in central London, during confinement on November 19, 2020 (AFP - JUSTIN TALLIS)

In Covent Garden, in central London, during confinement on November 19, 2020 (AFP – JUSTIN TALLIS)

The British government confirmed on Saturday that the four-week lockdown in England would not be extended beyond December 2, when this British province will return to a system of local restrictions.

“Recent positive developments in vaccines and mass testing give hope that the use of restrictions to fight the virus can be gradually reduced by the spring,” Downing Street said in a statement.

Conversely, Portugal decided on Saturday to “strengthen” the restrictions to stem the epidemic, in particular by closing schools and public administrations on Monday, November 30 and December 7, on the eve of public holidays.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic dominated the first exchanges of the virtual summit of the G20 which opened on Saturday in Riyadh. “Will we be ready to guarantee access (to vaccines) on a planetary scale, and to avoid at all costs the scenario of a two-speed world, where only the richest could protect themselves from the virus?” asked French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, in an address by videoconference to his counterparts.

burx-roc / lbx

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