US President Donald Trump, who was flown to a hospital on Friday after he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, received an experimental drug cocktail injection at the White House.
According to the White House physician to the President, Trump has received an 8 gram dose of an antibody cocktail, called REGN-COV2, made by Regeneron, a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases.
The co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron is George Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., son of Greek immigrants in New York. He has built and managed Regeneron alongside Dr. Schleifer since 1989. He has served on the board since 2001.
Just this week, Regeneron announced their antibody cocktail reduced viral levels and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The REGN-COV2 cocktail reduced viral load and the time it took to alleviate symptoms in non-hospitalized patients according to the company.
In a statement release, Yancopoulos stated “The greatest treatment benefit was in patients who had not mounted their own effective immune response, suggesting that REGN-COV2 could provide a therapeutic substitute for the naturally-occurring immune response. These patients were less likely to clear the virus on their own, and were at greater risk for prolonged symptoms.”
The President received an 8-gram infusion of the treatment. Regeneron’s data showed that a 2.4-gram infusion worked as well as the higher dose at reducing SARS-CoV-2 levels in people.
Yancopoulos told Science Magazine that Trump received a much higher dose likely out of “an abundance of caution” by the President’s medical team.
He added that he does not know why the President’s physicians chose to use 8 grams, but says the company’s data indicate there’s “very, very limited risk” that the antibodies will cause harm at either dose.
The higher dose might last longer, he said, and at some time points in the company’s study, Regeneron did see “trends” suggesting that the higher dose more powerfully beats back the virus—the company used the amount of viral genetic material found with nose swabs as a proxy for SARS-CoV-2 levels in the entire body.
“If I had to treat one patient, I’d give the high dose,” Yancopoulos told Science Magazine. “From a societal point of view and the need to treat as many people as possible, I’d give the lower dose.”
Dr. Yancopoulos, along with key members of his team, is the principal inventor of Regeneron’s seven FDA-approved drugs and foundational technologies, including the TRAP technology, VelociGene® and VelocImmune®.
He has been named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been pivotal in creating the science-driven, collaborative and highly-productive R&D culture at Regeneron.
Dr. Yancopoulos attended the Bronx High School of Science and received his MD and PhD from Columbia University.
In a recent interview, Dr. Yancopoulos said that “we owe everything we are, everything we do to our Greek heritage.”
He added that he was “raised to be incredibly proud of Greece, but I was also raised to believe that there was something special about the people who came to America, because they were seld-selected to be yearning for more.”