The company Eli Lilly & Co announced this Wednesday (10) that its combination antibody therapy is effective at treating mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
The treatment, a mixture of drugs bamlanivimab and etesevimab, was developed by Indianapolis-based Lilly and the Canadian company AbCellera.
It recognizes the virus once a person is infected and attaches to it, preventing the pathogen from entering human cells, and therefore neutralizing it.
In trial data released on Wednesday, Eli Lilly said the combination reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 87 percent compared to a placebo.
The results are an improvement of an earlier study of the combination, which reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 70 percent.
‘These compelling data…give healthcare providers additional information regarding the use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab together as a potentially life-saving treatment to help those most at risk for severe complications of COVID-19,’ Dr Daniel Skovronsky, chief scientific officer at Eli Lilly, said in a statement.
The trial looked at 769 mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients above age 12 who were at high risk of developing severe illness.
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Each patient was given an amalgamation of 700 milligrams (mg) of bamlanivimab and 1,400 mg of etesevimab.
In the study, there were four hospitalizations and zero deaths among the patients given the treatment.
Dr Peter Pitts, former FDA associate commissioner for external relations, told that the findings are evidence that the pandemic can be controlled
‘We may not eradicate COVID-19, but we may be able to take it from being a pandemic to endemic and what we can absolutely achieve is keeping people alive,’ he said.
‘Moving forward, this shows that having understood the value of aggressive early intervention could have saved lives.’
Comparatively, there were 11 hospitalizations and four deaths in the placebo group, all determined to have been caused by COVID-19.
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This dosing was authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as combination therapy in February
At the time, the federal government agreed to buy 100,000 doses of the antibody therapy, expected to be delivered by the end of the month, for $210 million.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Biden administration has the option to buy an additional 1.1 million doses through November 25.
According to Skovronsky, Eli Lilly is prepared to produce one million doses of the combination therapy over the next few months.
He also said he believes the treatment will not just protect against older strains of the coronavirus but new variants as well.
The UK variant is of particular concern, infecting Americans in 49 of 50 states and is expected to become the country’s dominant strain this month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He added that the company is currently looking at treatments for the variants first seen in South Africa and Brazil, neither of which are widespread in the U.S.