UPDATE - US Awards Regeneron $450Mln To Mass Produce COVID-19 Drug - Health Agency

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th July, 2020) The US biotechnology company Regeneron won a $450 million contract to mass produce up to 300,000 doses of a drug to treat COVID-19, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said in a statement.

"HHS and Department of Defense (DoD) today announced an agreement with Regeneron... to demonstrate commercial-scale manufacturing of the company's COVID-19 investigational anti-viral antibody treatment, REGN-COV2," the agency said in a statement on Tuesday. "The company estimates between 70,000 and 300,000 treatment doses could be available from this project, with the initial doses ready as early as end of summer and completed this fall."

These government-funded doses, after regulator approval, would be available to the US public "at no cost," HHS said. However, healthcare professionals could charge insurers for the cost of administering the medicine, the release added.

REGN-COV2 consists of two antibodies cloned from mice with their immune systems genetically altered to mimic humans, a separate Regeneron press release explained. The drug is undergoing advanced clinical trials for two possible uses - to treat COVID-19 infections and to prevent the disease, Regeneron said.

The two-antibody cocktail works by binding to the virus, thereby limiting the pathogen's ability to reproduce, the company said.

In a financial filing on Tuesday, Regeneron announced that part of the deal with the US government is with a partner company called Advanced Technology International, Inc. ("ATI"), an entity acting on behalf of the Medical CBRN Defense Consortium.

ATI was also the named recipient of a Pentagon contract released on Tuesday that awarded the company $450.39 million for the work described above. ATI is a non-profit subsidiary of Anser, which also described itself as a not-for-profit corporation that does work for the US government.

The US COVID-19 case count was approaching the 3 million-mark as of Tuesday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.