A kind of drug that takes a page from a body’s natural antibody defenses may be able to give many people early protection against the coronavirus, ahead of vaccines.

Few treatments so far have been shown to be effective against Covid-19, and even then, only in hospitalized patients. Potential vaccines, meanwhile, are probably months away from completing testing and becoming available to the general public.

Researchers and health officials express hope certain drugs, known as monoclonal antibodies and in testing by companies including Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co., will fill the breach.

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