Eli Lilly antibody drug prevents illness among residents and staff of nursing homes, study finds

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A healthcare worker working with the Florida Department of Health in Broward administers a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to Nancy Mathews, 90, at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6 in Pompano Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Drugmaker Eli Lilly said Thursday its COVID-19 antibody drug can prevent illness in residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care locations.

It’s the first major study to show such a treatment may prevent disease.

Residents and staff who got the drug had up to a 57% lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared to others at the same facility who got a placebo, the drugmaker said. Among nursing home residents only, the risk was reduced by up to 80%.

The study involved more than 1,000 residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care locations. The research was conducted with the National Institutes of Health. Results were released in a press release and the company said it would publish results in a journal soon.

The Food and Drug Administration in November allowed emergency use of Lilly antibody drug as a treatment for mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 that do not require hospitalization. It’s a one-time treatment given through an IV.

Lilly said it will seek expansion of that authorization to include using the drug to prevent and treat COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.

Nursing homes and other long-term care locations have been hard hit by the pandemic. In the United States, they account for less than 1% of the population, but nearly 40% of deaths from COVID-19.

These long-term care locations have been given priority to vaccinate residents and staff with recently authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

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