Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday that the Regeneron antibody cocktail administered to President Trump to treat a case of COVID-19 shouldn’t be referred to as a “cure.”
“The word ‘cure’ is inappropriate because it doesn’t work for everyone,” Gates told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But yes, of all the therapeutics, this is the most promising.”
Although an effective vaccine is an ultimate goal for putting an end to the pandemic, Gates noted that monoclonal antibodies allow for treatment that doesn’t require admission to a high percentage of the population.
“With the monoclonal antibodies, it’s only once somebody tests positive, show symptoms and they’re old enough they’re at risk,” Gates said. “That’s the target for this therapeutic.”
He added that if the monoclonal antibody treatments can be approved for an emergency use authorization in a timely manner, they will “save more lives than the vaccine will,” particularly if given in low doses.
“The president got eight grams and we’re trialing things that are down at more like 0.7 grams, and 0.3 grams,” Gates said. “Of course, that changes the cost and capacity a lot but that’s also unproven at this point, but it’s important that we explore.”
REGENERON CEO SAYS PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ANTIBODY COCKTAIL TREATMENT IS ‘CASE REPORT’
Gates is optimistic that antibody treatments, including those developed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, could potentially earn an emergency use authorization within the next few months, but warned against the president’s recent push for the regulators to accelerate the approval timeline.
“You don’t want politicians saying something should be approved because it’s wrong to think of political pressure as needing to be appropriate in these cases,” he said.
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As for vaccines, Gates said the majority of vaccines will likely get emergency use authorizations by early next year, with Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine potentially being an exception with a possible authorization by the end of this year.
“The phase three data is the key thing, particularly for the safety, making sure we’re not seeing side effects. So the tool is ramping up and, over the course of the first half of the year, those volumes will get to the point where we really will be asking Americans to, you know, step forward,” Gates said. “The effectiveness could range, you know, could be as low as 50% or as high as 80 [percent] or 90% and, different of the vaccines, some will fail completely and others will hit a very high bar. But we don’t know yet.”
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He added that almost all of the vaccines will