Eli Lilly testing whether novel COVID-19 antibody drug can quash outbreaks in nursing homes

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Eli Lilly & Co. has started a Phase 3 trial of its experimental antibody-based COVID-19 drug in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, testing whether the drug reduces the infection rate at facilities where residents or staff have recently tested positive for the new coronavirus. The study involves Eli Lilly driving specially modified RVs to newly infected nursing homes and injecting its COVID-19 drug, code-named LY-CoV555, in volunteers, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company said its drug may get government approval by the end of 2020.

Eli Lilly is already testing its antibody treatment, developed with Canadian biotech AbCellera Biologics, in hospitals on COVID-19 patents with mild and more severe cases. Researchers essentially cloned antibodies from one of the first U.S. patients to recover from COVID-19, hoping those proteins help the immune system fight the virus or prevent it from taking hold. If Eli Lilly's drug or another like it proves safe and effective, public health experts say it might serve as a bridge until a vaccine is available.

Nursing homes have been especially susceptible to deadly COVID-19 outbreaks. The new study, conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, seeks to enroll 2,400 test subjects.

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