Bill Gates speaks with CNN on Thursday, October 8, 2020.
Bill Gates speaks with CNN on Thursday, October 8, 2020. CNN

Monoclonal antibody treatments like the one President Donald Trump got may be the most effective approach for treating coronavirus infections, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Thursday.

Last Friday, Trump was given an antibody cocktail produced by biotechnology company Regeneron which included a pair of monoclonal antibodies that target the spike protein the virus uses to drill into healthy cells. Trump left the hospital and returned to the White House Monday.

Regeneron and pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. have applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their monoclonal antibody products.

Early data from clinical trials of Eli Lilly and Co’s monoclonal antibody indicates a 60% reduction in hospitalization rates, Gates said. He said Lilly hopes to be able to treat patients with very low doses of the lab-engineered immune system proteins.

Gates said monoclonal treatments may end up being far cheaper than the formulations now used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions — treatments than can run hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Gates predicted. 

“That’s always been the most promising therapeutic category,” Gates told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “The early data looks quite good.”

“If everything goes well, the cost of this intervention could be only a few hundred dollars or even under $100,” Gates said.

Gates, who has spun his fortune into a major medical and public health philanthropy, said the Bill & Melinda gates Foundation had invested in manufacturing monoclonals.

Trump has said he thought the Regeneron treatment he was given last week had cured him. 

“The word cure is a bit of an overpromise,” Gates said, laughing. “That makes it sound like it works for everyone and the whole concern about this disease will go away, and that’s the last thing we want people to think about.”



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