In a blockbuster announcement Thursday, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly said its antibody treatment, bamlanivimab, was able to prevent COVID-19 infections in nursing homes during late-stage clinical trials. Monoclonal antibody treatments have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use to treat COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms. These antibodies work by targeting the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and preventing it from attaching to human cells, according to Newsweek, and have been shown to greatly reduce COVID-19 related hospitalizations.
However, Eli Lilly says that in Phase III trials, the antibody was able to “significantly reduce” the risk of contracting COVID-19 in long-term health facilities. It is the first time a monoclonal antibody treatment has been found to be effective in lowering transmission rates of the disease.
According to CNN, nursing home residents who received the antibody, also known as LY-CoV555, had up to 80% lower risk of contracting symptomatic COVID-19 than fellow residents who received a placebo.
“We are exceptionally pleased with these positive results which showed bamlanivimab was able to prevent COVID-19, substantially reducing symptomatic disease among nursing home residents, some of the most vulnerable members of society,” said Lilly’s chief scientific officer, Daniel Skovronsky, according to Newsweek. He added that antibody treatments are not a substitute for vaccines that offer more effective and longer lasting protection.
Earlier this month, public health officials across the country asked healthcare practitioners to take advantage of the plentiful supply of monoclonal antibodies that are currently the only approved treatment that could keep Americans out of hospitals as well as slash hospitalization time by half, according to studies.
“This is the first time during the pandemic that I can recall when our resources far exceed demand,” said Dr. William Fales, of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, according to NBC News.
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