Most biotech companies prepare for disruptions in manufacturing by freezing and stockpiling enough of their most profitable drugs to last about two years. Why not pay these plants to use their capacity for antibody production? Companies can dip into reserves to avoid creating a shortage of other important medicines.
A manufacturer can’t flip to making antibodies overnight. It’d take about six months to convert a facility to the Covid drug and another six months to return it to its original purpose. But a big facility that makes the Covid antibodies at full throttle for about eight months could rack up some 2.5 million doses.
The government can help backstop the risks to any manufacturer willing to become a contract manufacturer for the Covid medication. The government can agree to buy the antibody and stockpile it at a price that makes it worthwhile. Regeneron and Lilly would be paid to license their drugs for such an arrangement.