Coronavirus treatment breakthrough? Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody drug shows promise in preventing COVID-19 spread

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Credit: Andrew Nelson/WDAY
Credit: Andrew Nelson/WDAY

In November, the antibody bamlanivimab was authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in treating patients with Covid who are at risk of more severe disease. An antibody cocktail made by the biotechnology firm Regeneron has also been authorized.

But [Eli] Lilly believes its antibody could be an option not just to treat Covid-19 but to help prevent it in limited circumstances.

“Of course, I think the vaccines are more effective than prophylaxis and likely longer lasting,” Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer, said in an interview. “So this should not be seen in any way as competition to vaccines. It should be for when it’s too late, when there’s an outbreak and people are getting exposed and there’s not going to be time for a vaccine to work.”

The study, begun Aug. 3, was conducted with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Lilly used an unusual strategy: a fleet of refitted recreational vehicles that could prepare study drug, do lab work, and pull trailers that could be used as on-site infusion clinics.

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Among [965 participants], symptomatic Covid-19 infections were reduced by 57%. Among the 299 patients who were nursing home residents, the results were stronger still, reducing symptomatic Covid-19 cases by 80%. In both cases the result was statistically significant.

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