Dr. Leonard Schleifer, CEO, Regeneron
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies grant months of protection from Covid-19 and could be administered to individuals whose immune systems aren’t shielded enough by vaccines, CEO Len Schleifer told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.
Schleifer’s comments came after Regeneron released data that indicated its one-dose antibody cocktail cut the risk of catching the virus by nearly 82% for two to eight months. Regeneron’s monoclonals have been administered intravenously to treat up to moderate Covid symptoms during the pandemic and lower the chances for hospitalization in high-risk patients, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
“If you want to protect people on a population level, vaccines are the best way to go – they’re cheap and you can make billions of doses,” Schleifer said. “But our data now indicates that antibodies are the key player in the sense that they are sufficient.”
“You might not need the cellular immunity. It might add something, but antibodies are sufficient based on these data to protect you from getting Covid-19,” he added.
Individuals with immunocompromised conditions could eventually receive Regeneron’s monoclonals up to every five or six months, “and they would be protected just as though they were vaccinated,” Schleifer said. He said the treatment could be administered selectively to those at high risk for Covid complications and essential workers with concerns over immunizing.
But Schleifer noted that he didn’t think Regeneron could produce enough antibodies at an affordable price to use them as widely as vaccines.
“If you’re in the military, or you’re a teacher or you’re on the front line and you legitimately have this fear, maybe this can be offered as an alternative. It’s something we have to discuss,” Schleifer said. “But the data – put the politics aside – the data say that antibodies can protect you from getting Covid-19.”
Regeneron’s antibodies target Covid’s spike protein to prevent the virus from penetrating into 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 unveil promising Covid treatment data in recent weeks. Pfizer announced Friday that its antiviral coronavirus pill slashes the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% for high-risk adults after combining the treatment with an HIV drug to help it last longer in the body.
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics also released data in October on an antiviral pill that they said cut Covid hospitalizations and deaths by 50% for patients battling mild or moderate cases.