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Eli Lilly says antibody cuts COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations by 87 percent

Eli Lilly says antibody cuts COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations by 87 percent
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Eli Lilly announced Wednesday that its antibody drug to combat the coronavirus cut the risk of hospitalization and death from the illness by 87 percent. 

In a new study of 769 high-risk COVID-19 patients, the company said four people in the placebo group died from the coronavirus. No one died who took the antibody treatment, which combines bamlanivimab and etesevimabits. 

The Wednesday announcement publicized the results of the second large, late-stage study of Eli Lilly’s combination drug.

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The results of the previous study, released in January, found that a higher dose of the drugs reduced hospitalizations and deaths by 70 percent. Lowering the dosage to achieve greater results could help extend supplies of the Eli Lilly drug.

“These compelling data ... give healthcare providers additional information regarding the use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab together as a potentially life-saving treatment to help those most at risk for severe complications of COVID-19,” said Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.

U.S. regulators first approved the drug in February for use in coronavirus patients age 12 and up who have a high risk of coming down with a serious case of COVID-19. It was approved for use in Europe earlier this month.

The promising results come as experts express concern over the number of cases across the country. While total cases appear to have plateaued, new infectious variants of the disease have also been spreading through the U.S. 

“The consistent results observed in multiple cohorts of this trial over several months, even as new strains of COVID-19 have emerged, indicate bamlanivimab with etesevimab maintains its effects against a range of variants, particularly those circulating in the U.S.,” said Skovronsky.