(Reuters) – A trial of Eli Lilly and Co’s antibody drug shows it can cut the risk of COVID-19 by 80% for nursing home residents, the company said on Thursday, although the need for such disease prevention tools has dwindled as vaccines become available.
The drug, bamlanivimab, was given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last October at a dose of 700 mg for non-hospitalized 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 4,200 mg of bamlanivimab or a placebo.
After eight weeks, Lilly said trial participants were 57% less likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19 if they were treated with the antibody drug compared with a placebo, though the benefit was 80% 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% of the U.S. population, but 40% of the deaths related to the disease.
In the roll-out of COVID vaccines that began in December, the federal government prioritized residents and staff of nursing homes, but many are still waiting.
As of Wednesday, nearly 36 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc had been distributed and under 2 million shots had been administered at nursing homes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our teams are still working in nursing homes. Many people are not vaccinated yet,” said Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer.
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 an alternative to vaccinations. This is an alternative if there is an outbreak in a facility,” Skovronsky said. “I don’t want to be delivering antibodies to nursing homes forever.”
(Reporting By Deena Beasley, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)