By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) – While the wait for a COVID-19 vaccine, continues, there’s more today about a new treatment for people who already have the virus, or those who believe they were exposed to it.

Regeneron was approved for emergency use over the weekend. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports thousands of doses will be shipped out Tuesday.

The emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration is for 30,000 doses of Regeneron. It follows months of study, including one done in the Chicago area.

The aim of the Cook County Health Department study: To determine the preventative effects of the Regeneron antibody treatment. Whether it offers protection for people living in a household with someone who has COVID-19.

“So in our study if somebody in a person’s household, a roommate, a family member gets infected with COVID, then obviously the other people in the household might be exposed,” said Doctor Sybil Hosek of the Cook County Health Department. “And so we can enroll those other people in the household into the study, give them access to the antibody or a placebo, and then follow them and see if they get infected.”

“Eight hundred volunteers have been studied in Cook County. Some were given a placebo and others took the drug cocktail.

“We know I don’t have any data on its effect. But I can say that so far it’s been very well tolerated and does appear to mount a good immune response and the people that have been studied so far,” Hosek said.

Doctors gave President Trump Regeneron when he had COVID-19. It’s a cocktail of two antibodies. Studies have shown it can reduce the impact of the coronavirus.

Dr. Jennifer Pisano is an infectious disease physician at the University of Chicago.

“Those proteins are engineered to attack the SARS virus to prevent the virus from attaching to your cells to prevent viral entry into your body,” Pisano said.

The doctors CBS 2 spoke to were cautious, but encouraged.

“I think it’s too early to draw any sweeping conclusions, but there is promise to potentially decrease hospitalizations in the highest risk patients that might go on to develop severe disease,” Pisano said.

Cook County Health is still looking for volunteers for its Regeneron study. To learn more, call (504) 432-5420.


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