13. December 2020. 18:01 Eastern Time
An investigator from Teamtests possible covid-19 antibodies in Indianapolis in May.
David Morrison/Presse Associée
The United States can take out Covid insurance for the following year. The federal government needs to increase the production of antibodies in order to produce as many doses as possible. The Food and Drug Administration has approved two such preparations, namely Regeneron and
for emergencies. In newly diagnosed patients, they reduce the risk of serious diseases.
They are relatively easy to produce, but supply is limited because the government has not found enough production space in the spring. Regeneron and Lilly have taken extraordinary measures to increase their own production. They knew they had to produce these drugs in the United States, so other countries wouldn’t try to nationalize production and put the drugs in their own pockets. Each company has freed up most of its domestic production capacity by relocating the production of other drugs to places like Europe. Each company has also worked with another major producer to provide additional production capacity.
with Eli Lilly, and Roche worked with Regeneron. The German government has relaxed some rules to make this cooperation possible. Next year the total amount will be between six and seven million doses.
But that’s not enough. Most biotech companies prepare for production interruptions by freezing and storing enough of their most profitable drugs for about two years. Why should these plants not be paid to use their ability to produce antibodies? Companies can dig into the reserves to prevent a shortage of other important medicines.
The manufacturer cannot switch to the production of antibodies overnight. It would take about six months to convert the facility to Covida and another six months to bring it back to its original recipe. But a large facility that produces covidian antibodies at full speed for about eight months could increase doses by about 2.5 million.
The government can help to avoid risks for any manufacturer who wants to become a contract manufacturer of Covid medicines. The government may agree to buy the antibody and store it at a price that makes it attractive. Regeneron and Lilly would have been paid to license their drugs as part of this deal.
The government could freeze and store a number of active pharmaceutical ingredients as a barrier against another harsh Covidian winter next year. The raw material can be frozen for at least three years. And the production of an active ingredient is a difficult part. It takes less than a month to thaw it out and turn it into a finished medicine.
I’ve written about antibodies several times on these pages. They’ve always been the best option to reduce Covid’s death and suffering this fall. However, the supply is very limited and the two available drugs have to be distributed, somewhat arbitrarily, because the government did not do everything in its power last spring to increase production.
It is still possible to invest in other antibodies. Not everyone can be vaccinated and some will decide differently. There’s gonna be a lot of patients who need these drugs.
Dr. Gottlieb is a resident of the American Enterprise Institute and commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 2017-19. It is represented on the board of directors.
The editors of the magazine: Paul Gigo interviewed Dr. Martin Macari Johns Hopkins. A picture: Pavel Gonchar/Zuma Press
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Published on 14 December 2020 in a printed publication entitled Antibodies as Covidian Insurance.
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