Two companies reported positive results from Covid-19 antibody drug combinations Tuesday, as both seek to increase use of their therapies and ensure effectiveness against new strains.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said its antibody cocktail reduced Covid-19 cases by half and prevented all symptoms in people at high risk of catching the coronavirus. A combination of two antibodies that Eli Lilly & Co. is advancing to combat new variants cut the chances of hospitalizations and deaths by 70% in high-risk patients.
While antibody therapies have been a rare bright spot in treating people infected with the coronavirus, they’re expensive and production is hard to scale up. Logistical barriers to infusing contagious, recently diagnosed patients have also hurt use of the treatments.
The Regeneron antibody cocktail could be used as a “passive vaccine” to protect those living with others who are already infected, the company said in a statement Tuesday, citing an early analysis of 409 people participating in a phase 3 trial.
Regeneron said its antibody cocktail reduced Covid-19 cases by half and prevented all symptoms in people at high risk.
The study is evaluating the antibody cocktail for immediate, short-term protection against the virus. It may offer certain advantages over vaccines that take several weeks to induce immunity, which is then longer-lasting.
In an interim analysis of 186 people who received the treatment, 10 became infected with Covid-19, but no one experienced symptoms. In the placebo group, 23 of 223 people tested positive, with eight showing symptoms and one death. Those treated with the therapy also had lower viral loads and shorter periods of infection, according to the study.
Lilly said on Tuesday that its antibody combination was effective in high-risk patients with a new Covid-19 diagnosis. The late-stage trial enrolled 1,035 patients, and there were 11 Covid-related hospitalizations or deaths from any cause among patients taking the combination, and 36 among those on placebo. Patients who got the combination had a statistically significant reduction in viral load and faster resolution of symptoms than those who got placebo, according to Lilly.
The two data sets “underscore the importance of antibody treatments,” Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen wrote in a Tuesday note. “Virus mutations and slower-than-anticipated vaccine rollout could mean that Covid treatments will be needed for the foreseeable future.”