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Eli Lilly says its new drug made people immune to the coronavirus

January 25th, 2021 at 7:05 PM
Coronavirus treatment
  • Drugmaker Eli Lilly has released the findings from a study showcasing what appears to be a promising coronavirus treatment that prevented nursing home staff and residents from being infected with a symptomatic case of COVID-19.
  • The drug contains monoclonal antibodies and showed considerable promise as a prevention measure against coronavirus.
  • To-date, 22.4 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been completed in the US.

The race is on to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, as quickly as possible, with that rush currently targeting people like the medically vulnerable as well as the elderly and residents of nursing homes who tend to be among the hardest-hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Regarding the latter, CVS Health on Monday announced that it’s administered the first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses to almost 8,000 US nursing facilities. The pharmacy chain’s administration of second doses of the COVID vaccine is underway now and expected to be done within four weeks. All told, CVS has administered almost 2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine and has a capacity to boost that to 20 million to 25 million shots per month, the company told Reuters. And while that’s certainly great news — it’s helped add to the overall total of vaccinations in the US, which is now at 22.4 million inoculations since they began in mid-December — vaccines aren’t the only promising coronavirus-related news on the horizon. Drugmaker Eli Lilly, for example, just announced that it may have a breakthrough coronavirus treatment to employ in the fight against COVID-19.

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Eli Lilly had embarked on an experiment to see if its coronavirus treatment — a drug that contains what are called monoclonal antibodies — could be used to keep staff members and residents of nursing homes from contracting COVID-19. The study was conducted in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, and it seems to have worked — it prevented symptomatic infections in residents exposed to the coronavirus.

According to the company’s announcement, there was an 80% drop in infections among those residents who were given this experimental coronavirus treatment, compared to those residents who only received a placebo. Likewise, there was a 60% reduction among nursing home staff.

“We are exceptionally pleased with these positive results, which showed (the drug) was able to help prevent COVID-19, substantially reducing symptomatic disease among nursing home residents, some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.

Important to note: This data has not yet been peer-reviewed. Eli Lilly has pledged to showcase the study’s findings in a peer-reviewed journal at a later date.

As for the study itself, it included 965 participants at nursing homes — 666 staff members, as well as 299 residents. The reason for that lopsided ratio of staff members compared to residents is that it was difficult to enroll residents in the study. Some had dementia and didn’t understand what was being asked of them, while others were too skeptical to participate.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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