Eli Lilly clinical trials reducing rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, gray, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Phase two of clinical trials for an antibody treatment at Eli Lilly is reducing the rate at which patients are being hospitalized with coronavirus.

Eli Lilly says the antibody is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, which would neutralize the virus, potentially preventing and treating COVID-19.

“The data we just got from this ongoing clinical trial shows us that the medicine can have an effect in lowering the amount of virus that’s detected in the patients,” says Daniel Skovronsky, Chief Medical Officer for Eli Lilly. “The effect is correlated with lower symptoms and a lower rate of hospitalization.”

Skovronsky says this antibody treatment is most effective as early in the disease course as possible.

“These are people who, just within a few days of having symptoms, got diagnosed, and then later given this treatment,” says Skovronsky.

Lilly executives say the antibody is called LY-CoV555. The trial enrolled mild-to-moderate recently diagnosed COVID-19 patients across four groups receiving different doses (placebo, 700 mg, 2800 mg and 7000 mg).

The data showed 1.7 percent (5/302) of LY-CoV555 patients, pooled across all three dosage groups, were hospitalized as compared to 6 percent (9/150) of placebo patients, which corresponds to a 72 percent risk reduction in the limited population.

Skovronsky says most of the hospitalizations occurred in patients with underlying risk factors, suggesting a more pronounced treatment effect for patients in these higher-risk groups.

The clinical trial will continue testing LY-CoV555 in combination with a second Lilly antibody, LY-CoV016.

“We’re making as much (of the antibody) as we can as fast as we can. We’d like to have 100,000 doses available by the end of the year and many more next year. Over time, we’ll look to reproduce these findings in larger sample sizes. That’s the normal drug process that goes to ultimate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submission and approval,” says Skovronsky.

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