Eli Lilly says its antibody drug cut Covid-19 risk for nursing home residents in trial

Seniors at long-term care facilities are considered to be the most vulnerable to Covid-19. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A trial of Eli Lilly and Co's antibody drug shows it can cut the risk of Covid-19 by 80 per cent for nursing home residents, the company said on Thursday (Jan 21), although the need for such disease prevention tools has dwindled as vaccines become available.

The drug, bamlanivimab, was given emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration last October at a dose of 700mg for non-hospitalised Covid patients.

The nursing home trial involved 965 participants - 299 residents and 666 staff - who tested negative for the coronavirus.

They were treated with an intravenous infusion of either 4,200mg of bamlanivimab or a placebo.

After eight weeks, Eli Lilly said trial participants were 57 per cent less likely to develop symptomatic Covid-19 if they were treated with the antibody drug compared with a placebo, though the benefit was 80 per cent for the nursing home residents.

Seniors at long-term care facilities are considered to be the most vulnerable to Covid-19, accounting for about 1 per cent of the US population, but 40 per cent of the deaths related to the disease.

In the roll-out of Covid vaccines that began in December, the federal government prioritised residents and staff of nursing homes, but many are still waiting.

As at Wednesday, nearly 36 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna had been distributed and under two million shots had been administered at nursing homes, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Our teams are still working in nursing homes. Many people are not vaccinated yet," said Dr Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's chief scientific officer.

Eli Lilly will seek an EUA for bamlanivimab in the prevention of Covid-19 in unvaccinated residents of nursing homes that are experiencing outbreaks of the disease, he said.

"I don't see this as an alternative to vaccinations. This is an alternative if there is an outbreak in a facility," Dr Skovronsky said.

"I don't want to be delivering antibodies to nursing homes forever."

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