HealthDay News — A single infusion of an experimental drug dramatically lowers levels of coronavirus in the bodies of newly infected patients and cuts their chances of hospitalization, the drug’s maker reported Wednesday.
Eli Lilly’s announcement did not include detailed data and has not been peer-reviewed or published yet, The New York Times reported. The news comes from interim results of a trial sponsored by Eli Lilly and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. NIH officials would not comment on the announcement until they have seen more detailed data from the trial, according to The Times.
The drug is a monoclonal antibody, a man-made copy of an antibody produced by a patient who recovered from COVID-19, The Times reported. Scientists around the world have high hopes that monoclonal antibodies will prove to be powerful COVID-19 treatments, but they come with a caveat: They are difficult to manufacture and would take time to produce. In the trial, 452 newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients received the monoclonal antibody or a placebo infusion. Some 1.7 percent of those who got the drug were hospitalized compared with 6 percent of those who received placebo — a 72 percent reduction in risk, Eli Lilly said.
At the same time, blood levels of the coronavirus plummeted among those who received the drug, and their symptoms were fewer and milder, The Times reported. This is the first treatment aimed at patients who are not already seriously ill and hospitalized, the newspaper added.