Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who led the FDA under Trump from May 2017 to April 2019, in an interview on CNBC on October 9th, highlighted the role that antibody drugs can play in both saving lives and preventing infection, and rued the “missed opportunity” to ramp up production starting in the Spring of this year.
The companies “worked hard” to get more production capacity online, said Gottlieb, but there really wasn’t a national, coordinated strategy to free up manufacturing capacity to be able to produce these at the mass scale that, if we had them at that scale right now, we could effectively use them as a vaccine.”
“Remember, these could be not only used potentially to treat people who are infected and prevent them from getting sick, but you could potentially give people a monthly injection of these drugs and prevent them from ever getting infected,” he added. “That’s how [antibody drugs] were used very successfully in the setting of Ebola.”Dr. Scott Gotlieb, CNBC, October 9th, 2020
Just as importantly, Gottlieb pointed out that it is not too late to do so now.
Gottlieb said the government should still consider orchestrating a program to help manufacture more antibody therapies, even though there are high hopes a vaccine may also be ready in the coming months.
“We should be taking steps right now … to try to make sure we have that supply available in 2021 so we’re not constantly struggling to try to get adequate supply of these drugs, if in fact they’re demonstrated to be safe and effective,” Gottlieb said. “And I think all the early data is encouraging.”Dr. Scott Gotlieb, CNBC, October 9th, 2020
Dr. Gottlieb is just the latest of several prominent leaders in public health and science that are now recognizing and calling attention to immunoprotection with antibodies. We hope that the chorus will swell and rapid, massive action will be taken to ramp production now. We must always remember that – based on long experience with the Flu and other coronaviruses – vaccines may not be as effective as desired for the most vulnerable populations groups that suffer serious disease or death from COVID-19. For both the short and long term, these are critical tools that need to be produced at scale.