An Antibody “Cocktail” for COVID-19: Bottoms Up!

By Shlomo Maital

             In medical research, sometimes old tried-and-true ideas become new.

             In HIV AIDS research, researchers tried to find an antibody that would defeat the virus, if injected or consumed by patients. It didn’t work. The virus always found a way. The solution? Cocktails – combinations of antibodies, which taken together the virus could not defeat. And to this day, those who are HIV positive do quite well, relatively, when they regularly take the new ‘cocktail’. One of those drugs is called “Retrovir”. David Ho is generally regarded as the HIV cocktail pioneer, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

           A similar approach proved effective with the Ebola virus. Late last year it was reported that: “ …a team of scientists demonstrated that a two-antibody cocktail called MBP134 could fully protect nonhuman primates and ferrets against lethal Ebola virus infections.”

           Now comes a biotech company called Regeneron, which has embraced the same principle. According to CNN and Peter Sullivan, writing for

   Regeneron is testing a cocktail of two antibodies to both treat and prevent the coronavirus, developed using people who have recovered from COVID-19 as well as genetically modified mice.   The company did not give a firm timeline for its work, but these antibody cocktails could be ready sooner than a vaccine.   A competitor company also working on the idea, Eli Lilly, said its antibody treatment could be as ready as early as September; it started trials earlier this month.  

“We have created a unique anti-viral antibody cocktail with the potential both to prevent and treat infection,” Dr. George Yancopoulos, chief scientific officer of Regeneron, said in a statement.   The antibody cocktail “could have a major impact on public health by slowing spread of the virus and providing a needed treatment for those already sick — and could be available much sooner than a vaccine.”

    We learned from treating HIV AIDS that a two-pronged approach is needed: Develop anti-viral drugs, while you develop anti-viral vaccines.  To this day no vaccine for HIV has been found.

      This is happening with COVID-19 as well. Drugs and vaccines.  Meanwhile, a vast army of hard-working scientists all over the world are collaborating, sharing results, and working day and night, to defeat this wily virus.

    They give us reason for much hope.