Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday that its combination antibody therapy to fight Covid-19 reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death by 87% in a study of more than 750 high-risk Covid-19 patients.
It is the second large, late-stage study to show that combination therapy of the two antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, is effective at treating mild to moderate cases of Covid-19.
The previous study, which published data in January, used a higher dose of the drugs and reduced risk of hospitalisation by 70%.
The two substances are proteins developed in a laboratory that are designed to mimic the way the immune system attacks a pathogen.
“I expect this data to continue to drive more utilisation of the antibodies,” said Daniel Skovronsky, chief scientific officer at Eli Lilly. “We have few other diseases where we have drugs that can offer this magnitude of benefit.”
US regulators authorised the combination therapy in February and Europe gave it the go-ahead in March.
Regulators authorised bamlanivimab alone for use against Covid-19 last year and the US government agreed to purchase nearly 1.5 million doses.
Skovronsky said the combination therapy has the benefit of offering greater protection against new strains of Covid-19.
“We are quite confident this combo covers all of the variants,” Skovronsky said, adding Lilly is studying an additional treatment for new Covid strains first identified in South Africa and Brazil.
Skovronsky said that Lilly is prepared to manufacture one million doses of the combination therapy in the coming months and is in active talks to supply governments around the world with the treatment.