In this Fool Live video, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and longtime Motley Fool contributor Brian Orelli discuss the drugs that President Donald Trump received to treat his case of COVID-19. They discuss the difference between an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and a full approval. They also get into whether it's worth investing in companies making COVID-19 treatments considering that data from late-stage clinical trials testing coronavirus vaccines are imminent.
Corinne Cardina: For anyone who has been living under a rock, on Friday, last Friday, President Trump announced that he and the First Lady have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Later that day, he was admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Center. His doctor said he received an eight gram dose of Regeneron's (NASDAQ:REGN) experimental antibody cocktail. He also received remdesivir, Gilead Sciences' (NASDAQ:GILD) antiviral treatment and a common steroid treatment called dexamethasone.
The President has since left the hospital. He tweeted a video crediting Regeneron's experimental treatment with his recovery. Of course, all this excitement has bled over into the stock market. Regeneron's stock is up seven percent since Friday, Oct. 2, continuing a nice if volatile streak since the pandemic began. It's actually up a little more than 60% since Jan. 1.
All that is to say that it's a great time to take a fresh look at all the stocks involved in the COVID-19 treatment field. Today, we're going to dive into some of the stocks investors might have their eye on. Brian, let's start with a question that I think a lot of us have as we toggle back and forth between news on treatments and news about the development of a vaccine. Will the need for these COVID-19 treatments decrease substantially once a safe and efficacious vaccine is widely distributed? Is this a fleeting field, a band-aid while we wait for a vaccine, or is it here to stay?
Brian Orelli: It obviously depends on how well the vaccines work. It's likely they won't be 100%. Even people who do get the vaccine, eventually, some of those people will get COVID and will need treatment. So I think the treatments aren't going away completely.
Will the demand go down as the amount of vaccine goes up assuming the vaccine works? Yes, absolutely. But we also don't really know how many people are going to be interested in taking the vaccine and also how much the vaccine is going to be available. Certainly in the beginning, only the most at-risk people are going to be able to get the vaccine. Until everybody is vaccinated, and that will be a long time, and maybe never if people decide they don't want to take it, then that's the only way we get it so that there wasn't any treatments needed.
Corinne Cardina: Yeah, absolutely. There's a lot of uncertainties and question marks that's basically going to decide that as things keep coming out about the vaccine trials.
Speaking of the treatments, a lot has been said about emergency-use authorizations. Can you tell us what that means compared to true FDA approvals? Do emergency-use authorizations expire?
Brian Orelli: Yeah. First, let's start off with what you need to get one, and then you need less data basically to get an emergency-use authorization compared to a FDA approval. The reason is because they understand that there's a higher risk and so therefore you can have less data and still be able to get the emergency-use authorization. Then the authorization only lasts as long as there's an emergency. As soon as the pandemic is over, the companies would have to apply for a full approval if they wanted to keep their drugs or vaccines on the market.