Germany will become the first EU country to start using the same experimental antibody treatment that is believed to help Donald Trump recover from Covid-19, health minister Jens Spahn said Sunday.
“The government has purchased 200,000 doses for 400 million euros ($ 486 million),” said Spahn Photo on Sunday newspaper, working with 2,000 euros per dose.
The so-called monoclonal antibody cocktail will be deployed to university hospitals in the coming week, he said, adding that Germany was “the first country in the EU” to use it in the fight against the pandemic.
Spahn did not specify which manufacturers would supply the drugs but confirmed they were the same drugs that were given to then US president Trump when he fell ill with Covid last October.
“They work like passive vaccinations. Giving these antibodies at an early stage can help high-risk patients avoid more serious development,” said Spahn.
Trump, who was briefly hospitalized with the coronavirus, was given antibody therapy developed by US company Regeneron, known as REGN-COV2, even before the treatment received regulatory approval.
He later said that the drug did “a wonderful job”.
The US company Eli Lilly has developed a similar therapy.
The new treatment is a combination or “mixture” of two laboratory-made antibodies: infection-fighting proteins developed to bind to a part of the new coronavirus that it uses to attack human cells.
Antibodies attach to different parts of the viral spike protein, changing their structure – similar to the way a key is dropped so that it no longer fits into a lock.
Germany’s orders come at a time of growing frustration in the EU over a slower-than-expected vaccine launch.
Vaccine maker Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca have said they will ship smaller doses to Europe than anticipated in the short term due to production issues.
The German government has said it hopes to offer all Germans a jab by the end of August.
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