Treatments and vaccines will both play vital role in controlling pandemic, Duke expert says

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — When we talk about the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we hear a lot about vaccines that may prevent the virus, but researchers are also working on treatments to help people after they are already infected.

One of those recently received emergency use authorization from the FDA.

You may recognize the name Regeneron. President Trump received the pharmaceutical company’s antibody treatment after his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Now the FDA has given it emergency use authorization for high-risk patients.  

“When you’re infected, if your immune system cannot generate enough antibodies to fight off that virus, then the virus sort of gets ahead of you,” explained Tom Denny, Chief Operating Officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. “With the Regeneron treatment option, you can receive these intravenous antibodies and that will help to fight the pathogen, in this case the COVID virus.”

The FDA has also granted emergency use authorization for another antibody treatment made by Eli Lilly. 

The antibody treatments must be given soon after diagnosis and they’re only for people with mild to moderate symptoms who are at high risk of developing severe illness.

“I think you’ll start to see more treatment options, so that hopefully those who do get infected will not go on to have the severe disease processes that we see today,” said Denny.

He emphasized that both treatments and vaccines are important in getting the pandemic under control, but it will take time before either is widely available. 

“I wouldn’t say we’ve turned a corner completely,” Denny said. “But we’re starting to see some light in that potential turn.”

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