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  • - [Narrator] Clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines

  • are nearing the final stretch.

  • But health experts say vaccines are just one piece

  • of a larger puzzle in fighting the deadly disease

  • and getting us back to normal.

  • The other big piece are effective treatments

  • for those who are a%lready sick.

  • - Not everybody mounts a good immune response,

  • in particular immunosuppress patients are well-known

  • to not to respond well to vaccines.

  • So we are gonna need to have therapies

  • for those who are not vaccinated

  • and for those who don't make a good immune response.

  • - [Narrator] Right now, there are three main categories

  • of COVID-19 treatments: antibody therapies,

  • immunomodulators, and antivirals.

  • Antibody therapies leverage antibodies, like these,

  • that the body naturally produces

  • after recovering from a disease.

  • To ward off infection, they attach to proteins

  • on the viruses surface.

  • That prevents it from infiltrating cells.

  • Different types of antibodies target

  • different parts of the virus.

  • They circulate in the yellowish liquid part of blood

  • known as plasma.

  • That's where the treatment comes in.

  • - You can take that liquid and give it to a person

  • who's sick or to prevent disease.

  • So it is the transfer of immunity

  • from a person who's made it to a person who's susceptible.

  • - [Narrator] When given to sick patients,

  • convalescent plasma can potentially boost

  • a person's immune response to the virus,

  • but just for a few weeks.

  • - We always pull it out during a pandemic.

  • We did this for 2009 H1N1, obviously for things such as

  • Ebola virus disease in Africa.

  • - [[Narrator] Because it's relatively easy to produce

  • compared to vaccines and other drugs,

  • experts think it could possibly be used both as a treatment

  • and as a preventative medicine against COVID-19.

  • - It's based on the same principle

  • of if you have a protective antibody,

  • passive transfer of that could provide not only protection

  • prophylactically but also treatment.

  • - [Narrator] Plasma is widely thought to be safe,

  • and in August the FDA authorized using it

  • to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

  • But its effectiveness is still being studied.

  • - Convalescent plasma is a little bit of a,

  • it's a mixed bag.

  • We don't actually know the titers of the patients

  • who have survived and done well after COVID.

  • - [Narrator] Titers are a measurement of how many antibodies

  • are in a person's blood.

  • Typically, the more antibodies a person has,

  • the better chance they have at fighting an infection.

  • This means that not all plasma is created equal.

  • The amount and quality of antibodies it contains can vary.

  • That impacts how effective the treatment can be.

  • - Getting with convalescent plasma right now

  • is a bit of an unknown.

  • - [Narrator] To overcome this,

  • scientists use plasma as a blueprint

  • to build a more potent drug known as monoclonal antibodies.

  • They do this by homing in on specific antibodies

  • that do the best job in stopping the virus.

  • - We screen these huge panels of antibodies

  • through many in vitro assays to select the best antibiotics

  • that block the ability of the virus to get inside cells

  • and infect them.

  • - [Narrator] Once they're identified,

  • scientists can mass produce them

  • in facilities that resemble breweries

  • and pack them into drugs that act as a targeted attack

  • against the virus.

  • - You're growing these cells in bioreactors,

  • which are huge steel tanks,

  • and then as the cells grow, they are pumping out antibody.

  • You are concentrating that, and in purified form,

  • this is what you are administering to patients.

  • - [Narrator] Both Regeneron and competitor Eli Lilly

  • have been racing to bring monoclonal antibody drugs

  • to market for COVID-19.

  • The companies are testing drugs that contain one

  • or two types of antibodies,

  • and researchers say they could have benefits

  • over plasma-based treatments.

  • - Monoclonal antibody preparations are consistent.

  • They are consistent from patient to patient.

  • They can be standardized,

  • and they are hopefully easier to use than plasma

  • because of its properties.

  • - [Narrator] Each of the companies has released

  • encouraging data from early stage clinical trials

  • showing their drugs help reduce coronavirus levels

  • and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized patients.

  • But both drug makers had to pause their studies

  • in hospitalized patients,

  • and the Lilly study was halted

  • in this patient population altogether

  • because they didn't see a benefit.

  • Early data among less severe patients though looks promising

  • for both drugs.

  • In October, President Trump was given

  • Regeneron's antibody cocktail

  • as part of his COVID-19 treatment.

  • The president said the drug was key to his recovery,

  • but it's unclear how beneficial the drug actually was.

  • - I just wanna say we have Regeneron.

  • We have a very similar drug from Eli Lilly.

  • And they're coming out and we're trying to get them

  • on an emergency basis.

  • - [Narrator] Both Regeneron and Lilly have asked the FDA

  • to authorize emergency use of their treatments.

  • - We have committed to manufacturing about 300,000 dose

  • of these antibodies by the end of this year,

  • And we have also partnered with those

  • so that we can scale up and produce

  • about 2 million dose of these antibodies

  • to be available annually for worldwide use.

  • - [Narrator] But physicians have expressed concerns

  • about these new drugs.

  • - This isn't the type of drug that is always able

  • to be scaled, that can be made available to everyone rapidly

  • and also is a low cost

  • - [Narrator] Experts say both plasma

  • and monoclonal antibody treatments could help

  • not just COVID-19 patients

  • but also help prevent infection in healthy people.

  • To treat patients,

  • doctors have also been using immunomodulators.

  • These drugs suppress the immune system

  • and ensuing inflammation in the sickest

  • of COVID-19 patients.

  • That's important because this inflammation can be deadly.

  • One of those drugs is the steroid Dexamethasone.

  • Researchers have found that it improves survival

  • when given to severely ill patients.

  • The other treatment being used to fight COVID-19

  • is the antiviral drug Remdesivir.

  • This was another drug the president was given

  • at Walter Reed Hospital.

  • - So we really try to give Remdesivir as soon as somebody

  • may be admitted to the hospital.

  • We wanna give it as early as possible.

  • We know from Tamiflu and the flu

  • and all those kinds of different drugs

  • that giving antivirals sooner rather than later

  • is really important.

  • - [Narrator] Here's how it stops the coronavirus.

  • When a virus infects a cell,

  • it uses the cell's machinery to build more viruses.

  • It does that by making copies of its RNA.

  • That's the genetic material

  • that contains instructions for replication.

  • Remdesivir is designed to infiltrate these instructions

  • by inserting itself into copies of the viruses genetic code.

  • This interrupts the replication process

  • and acts as a kill switch for the virus.

  • Promising clinical trials led to the drug being approved

  • for emergency use in May,

  • but more recent studies have produced conflicting results

  • about its ability to speed up recovery

  • and curve death in COVID-19 patients.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services

  • allowed drug maker Gilead to market the drug

  • directly to hospitals in October.

  • And the CEO said he was confident in being able to deliver

  • the drug to the patients who need it.

  • - We now have enough supply of this medicine for patients

  • in the United States and globally by the end of this month.

  • - [Narrator] There's been tremendous progress

  • in treating COVID-19 but health experts caution

  • that there is still more work to be done

  • to see just how effective these treatments are.

  • And to save lives, doctors will need a multitude of drugs

  • at their disposal.

  • - I think that we're gonna see many more therapeutics

  • come out by the end of this pandemic,

  • and so that people that enter the hospital will at least

  • receive one specific COVID-19 treatment for their disease.

  • - [Narrator] Experts say these three types of treatments

  • are promising and they are hopeful that therapeutic drugs

  • combined with a vaccine may finally put up

  • an effective defense against the pandemic.

  • (upbeat instrumental music)

- [Narrator] Clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines

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The Critical Coronavirus-Busting Therapies, Explained | WSJ

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/30
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