US awards Regeneron $450 million to manufacture potential coronavirus treatment

US awards Regeneron $450 million to manufacture potential coronavirus treatment
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The Trump administration on Tuesday announced it is awarding $450 million to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to help ramp up manufacturing of a potential coronavirus treatment the company is developing. 

The funding is part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, which is providing funding for the manufacturing of potential coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even before they are approved, in a bid to be prepared if they are shown to work. 

The program has already awarded money to potential vaccines, but this is the first funding for a potential treatment, which could be ready sooner than a vaccine. 

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“This agreement with Regeneron is the first of a number of Operation Warp Speed awards to support potential therapeutics all the way through to manufacturing, allowing faster distribution if trials are successful,” Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar said in a statement. 

The first doses of the vaccine under the agreement with the federal government could be ready
“as early as end of summer,” HHS said in a news release. The company estimates that between 70,000 and 300,000 treatment doses could be available from the agreement. The government would then distribute those doses at no cost to the patient. 

Regeneron on Monday announced that its potential treatment was entering late-stage clinical trials. It is also conducting trials to see whether the drug could be used to prevent coronavirus infection. 

The potential treatment uses a cocktail of two antibodies, which the body produces to fight the virus. A competitor, Eli Lilly, is also working on a potential antibody treatment.