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Solving COVID

Small trial suggests Eli Lilly's coronavirus antibody drug could reduce patients' hospitalization odds

Eli Lilly's monoclonal coronavirus antibody drug is off to a "good start" after the pharmaceutical giant completed a small clinical trial, Stat News reports.

Only about 450 patients were enrolled in the trial, so there's a long way to go before Lilly finds anything definitive, but Stat reports the medicine — a manufactured version of the naturally-occurring antibodies the body produces to fend off the virus — appeared to reduce patients' hospitalization odds. Only 1.7 percent of the patients who received the drug went to the emergency room or were hospitalized, compared to 6 percent who took a placebo.

Again, it's unclear if that will hold up with further study, but Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly's chief scientific officer, said the early data are "extremely exciting" and "should give us confidence that neutralizing antibodies are going to be an important part of the solution" to the pandemic. Skovonrsky said the company will discuss additional clinical trials with regulators, as well as options like an emergency use authorization.

On the latter point, Eric Topol, the director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, suggested pumping the brakes. Topol is encouraged by the initial results, but doesn't think the drug currently "would qualify to even consider" an EUA. Read more findings from the trial at Stat News.