(Frankfurt) Germany will become the first country in the European Union to use the experimental synthetic antibody-based treatment administered to Donald Trump against COVID-19, Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Sunday.
“The government bought 200,000 doses for 400 million euros,” Spahn told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, which represents 2,000 euros (3,100 Canadian dollars) per dose.
Patients will receive this therapy free of charge, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told AFP. Two variations of this treatment based on “monoclonal” antibodies will be used in university hospitals next week.
Mr Spahn stressed that Germany was “the first country in the EU” to use this type of therapy in the fight against the pandemic.
Both versions of this treatment were approved in November in the United States but do not yet have the green light from European regulatory authorities.
According to the spokeswoman for the ministry, the German medicines regulatory authority, the Federal Institute Paul-Ehrlich, considered that the use of this therapy was “in principle” allowed on a case-by-case basis if doctors deemed it appropriate. to prevent “serious illness or hospitalizations among certain risk groups”.
Germany has sourced from two American companies, Regeneron for its Casirivimab / Imdevimab and Eli Lilly for its Bamlanivimab, the spokesperson said.
Two versions with similar functioning
The two work similarly, but Regeneron’s version combines two synthetic antibodies and Eli Lilly’s version uses only one.
These antibodies mimic the functioning of the immune system after contamination by the coronavirus by going to block the tip of the virus which allows it to attach to and penetrate human cells.
Mr. Trump, then President of the United States, had received Regeneron treatment in early October when he was briefly hospitalized, even before it was cleared in late November by the United States Medicines Agency (FDA). Eli Lilly’s similar treatment had been authorized as of November 9.
The ex-president touted Regeneron’s treatment, saying he had “cured” him.
These synthetic antibodies “work like a passive vaccination,” said Spahn. “Administering these antibodies during the initial stages of infection can help high-risk patients avoid a more serious course.”
Germany’s order comes amid growing criticism in the EU about the slow pace of vaccination campaigns.
Vaccine makers Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca have announced shorter-than-expected deliveries in the near term to Europe due to production difficulties.
The German government has indicated that it still plans to be able to offer the vaccine to all Germans by the end of August.
The most populous country in the EU, Germany on Friday crossed the 50,000 death mark linked to COVID-19 with more than 2.1 million cases since the start of the pandemic. Authorities fear the spread of new, more contagious variants of the virus.
The country has adopted draconian measures which will be further toughened from next week.
Restaurants, cafes, sports and cultural venues, closed for two and a half months, will remain so until at least February 14. Non-essential schools and businesses, closed since December 20, are also concerned.
Berlin also makes it compulsory to wear medical, FFP2 or surgical masks in shops and all public transport. Teleworking will now prevail wherever possible and at least until March 15.