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Coronavirus-hit Czechs order Regeneron antibody drug ahead of EU registration

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PRAGUE, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic, hard-hit bythe COVID-19 pandemic, has ordered 12,000 doses of an antibodytreatment made by Regeneron ahead of its registrationby European authorities and will start receiving it in March,Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Saturday.

Czech authorities are close to clearing emergency use ofRegeneron's cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab, which wasauthorised for emergency use in the United States in November,and was given to then U.S. president Donald Trump during hisCOVID-19 infection.

"We have managed to order Regeneron," Babis said on Twitter."In total, 12,000 doses. Four thousand will come in March, thesame in April and May."

The treatment is aimed at patients with mild to moderatedisease who are at risk of their condition worsening.

COVID-19 antibody therapies, by Regeneron and rival EliLilly, are given through one-time intravenous infusionand require patients to be isolated. This complexity has led tolackluster demand for the drugs.

The Czech Republic has also granted emergency approval toEli Lilly's therapy and ordered 500 doses.

Europe's drugs regulator EMA said on Feb. 4 it was reviewingdata on both therapies for use in some patients. Italy hasgiven emergency-use approval to the two therapies.

The Czech Republic, a country of 10.7 million, has reported19,097 deaths. Daily infections have risen to over 10,000 in thepast days, leading to the highest two-week incidence in Europeaccording to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Controldata.

The country has administered 538,448 vaccines, whichincludes 204,795 people who have received both doses as ofFriday, Health Ministry data showed. The figures put the Czechsbelow the European average, according to www.ourworldindata.org.(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Giles Elgood)