One local company has been at the top of national headlines this week, following the bombshell Friday tweet that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 exposure — after attending a political function at the White House Rose Garden that has quickly been recognized as a possible superspreader event.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
Tarrytown-based Regeneron has been in the news frequently this year. The biotech company has been utilizing the same rapid development process it used to create a highly effective new Ebola vaccine to create a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies that mimics the immune system’s own responses and helps the human body fight COVID-19.
That news was often overshadowed by the president’s support for alternative treatments from Gilead Science’s Remdesivir (which is proving potentially beneficial) to hydroxychloroquine (which has not) and bleach (which led to several deaths).
Following admittance to Walter Reed Medical Center this weekend, the White House has revealed that President Trump has been administered both Remdesivir and Regeneron’s own REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail.
In a statement late Friday, Regeneron confirmed that it had provided a single 8-gram dose of the therapy pursuant to a “compassionate care” request from the president’s doctor, allowing the use of the treatment which is otherwise still in clinical trials. Earlier the same week, the company released promising news that REGN-COV2 measurably reduced viral load levels and recovery time in Phase 1/2/3 trials.
“We hope that we will give his immune system enough of a boost so that he can win this and make a complete recovery,” Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D. told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“After months of incredibly hard work by our talented team, we are extremely gratified to see that Regeneron’s antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 rapidly reduced viral load and associated symptoms in infected COVID-19 patients,” says Regeneron President and Chief Scientific Officer George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.
The news sent Regeneron stock climbing when the NASDAQ opened Monday morning, jumping 7% and holding around $609 a share as of press time, a 60% increase year-to-date and more than 110% over the past 12 months.
Interestingly, the president’s choice of treatment options has also come under scrutiny for the potential impact on his own wallet: As recently as April 15, 2017 — while sitting president — Trump declared capital gains of between $50,001 and $100,000 from stock in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and between $100,001 and $1 million from stock in Gilead Sciences, Inc.
These disclosures do not appear on the president’s 2020 documents, however it does declare more than a dozen sales tied to mutual fund Dodge & Cox, of which The New York Times found the largest holding to be hydroxylchloroquine producer Sandofi.
Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer has been a member at Trump’s golf club in Westchester and his company has also received $450 million in government funding in July as part of the president’s Operation Warp Speed plan to quickly develop a vaccine and other treatments for coronavirus.
Yancopoulos confirms that Regeneron is expecting to meet high demand for its cocktail, telling CNN’s Julia Chatterley, “We are on track to deliver 300,000 doses by the end of the year and … produce 300,000 doses a month while the demand may even still exceed that.”
He adds, “If the drug is really working and having the effects that we all hope it would, it could be doing a lot of good for a lot of people.”
Those interested in participating in clinical trials of REGN-COV2 can complete an online screener at ClinLife.com/COVID.