COVID-19 treatment with UNC ties also appears effective in preventing coronavirus infections

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. Myron Cohen at the UNC School of Medicine called COVID-19 vaccines a “modern miracle” but the development of treatments have been important too.

“We’ve averted, we think, hundreds of hospitalizations and deaths by using these antibiotics. So, we remain very enthusiastic about their use. We remain very excited about the pills that are in development,” said Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill.

REGEN-COV, commonly known as regeneron, is a monoclonal antibody cocktail used as a treatment for people infected with COVID-19. It proved to be effective in keeping people out of the hospital. The treatment has also shown to be effective in preventing infection for at-risk people who are exposed to the virus.

“The National Institutes of Health and Regeneron did a study together, a fairly large study, that showed that when somebody went home in their household and had COVID, we could prevent, very successfully, the COVID transmission to other people household by infusing this antibody,” Cohen explained.

About 3 percent of the population lives with immune-suppressing conditions that do not allow them to develop enough of an immune response from the vaccines. This is the group Cohen believes may benefit the most from this sort of pre-treatment.

Recent phase three trial results showed a single dose of regeneron was 81.6 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in uninfected people.

“It’s not just that they were being protected from the household acquisition, they were being prevented from protected from community acquisition. The passive immunity benefit was extended for many months,” Cohen said.

While Cohen said the studies could prevent infection, he said these treatments were not substitutes for vaccination.

“The successful development of COVID vaccines is a modern miracle. Those need to be given to every person possible,” Cohen said.

REGEN-COV is not approved as a preventative treatment yet. Cohen expects the company will ask for FDA approval for this use.

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