Drug Prevents Coronavirus Infection in Nursing Homes, Maker Claims

Drug Prevents Coronavirus Infection in Nursing Homes, Maker Claims

An
unusual
experiment
to
prevent
nursing
home
staff
members
and
residents
from
infection
with
the
coronavirus
has
succeeded,
the
drug
maker
Eli
Lilly
announced
on
Thursday.

A
drug
containing
monoclonal
antibodies

laboratory-grown
virus-fighters

prevented
symptomatic
infections
in
residents
who
were
exposed
to
the
virus,
even
the
frail
older
people
who
are
most
vulnerable,
according
to
preliminary
results
of
a
study
conducted
in
partnership
with
the
National
Institutes
of
Health.

The
researchers
found
an
80
percent
reduction
in
infections
among
residents
who
got
the
drug,
compared
with
those
who
got
a
placebo,
and
a
60
percent
reduction
among
the
staff,
results
that
were
highly
statistically
powerful,
Eli
Lilly
said.

The
data
have
not
yet
been
peer-reviewed
or
published.
The
company
expects
to
present
the
findings
at
a
future
medical
meeting
and
to
publish
them
in
a
peer-reviewed
journal,
but
did
not
say
when.

The
study
included
965
participants
at
nursing
homes:
666
staff
members
and
299
residents.
(The
company
had
hoped
more
residents
would
participate,
but
it
proved
difficult
to
enroll
them;
many
had
dementia,
and
others
were
leery
of
getting
an
intravenous
drug.)

There
were
four
deaths
from
Covid-19
among
study
participants.
All
were
among
nursing
home
residents
who
got
a
placebo,
not
the
drug.

The
drug,
bamlanivimab,
already
has
an
emergency
use
authorization
from
the
Food
and
Drug
Administration
that
allows
Eli
Lilly
to
provide
it
to
symptomatic
patients
early
in
the
course
of
their
infection.

But
this
study
asked
if
the
drug
could
stop
infections
before
they
started.
It

was
an
unusual
experiment:
In
trucks
equipped
with
mobile
labs,
medical
staff
sped
to
nursing
homes
the
moment
a
single
infection
was
detected
there.
As
soon
as
the
workers
arrived,
they
set
up
temporary
infusion
centers
to
administer
the
drug.

The
research
ended
this
weekend
with
an
emergency
meeting
of
the
data
safety
and
monitoring
board,
an
independent
group
monitoring
the
incoming
results.
The
data
were
strong
and
convincing
enough
to
call
a
halt
to
the
placebos.

Covid-19
Vaccines

Answers
to
Your
Vaccine
Questions

While
the
exact
order
of
vaccine
recipients
may
vary
by
state,
most
will
likely
put
medical
workers
and
residents
of
long-term
care
facilities
first.
If
you
want
to
understand
how
this
decision
is
getting
made,

this
article
will
help.

Life
will
return
to
normal
only
when
society
as
a
whole gains
enough
protection
against
the
coronavirus.
Once
countries
authorize
a
vaccine,
they’ll
only
be
able
to
vaccinate
a
few
percent
of
their
citizens
at
most
in
the
first
couple
months.
The
unvaccinated
majority
will
still
remain
vulnerable
to
getting
infected.
A
growing
number
of
coronavirus
vaccines
are
showing
robust
protection
against
becoming
sick.
But
it’s
also
possible
for
people
to
spread
the
virus
without
even
knowing
they’re
infected
because
they
experience
only
mild
symptoms
or
none
at
all.
Scientists
don’t
yet
know
if
the
vaccines
also
block
the
transmission
of
the
coronavirus.
So
for
the
time
being,
even
vaccinated
people
will
need
to
wear
masks,
avoid
indoor
crowds,
and
so
on.
Once
enough
people
get
vaccinated,
it
will
become
very
difficult
for
the
coronavirus
to
find
vulnerable
people
to
infect.
Depending
on
how
quickly
we
as
a
society
achieve
that
goal,
life
might
start
approaching
something
like
normal
by
the
fall
2021.

Yes,
but
not
forever.
The
two
vaccines
that
will
potentially
get
authorized
this
month
clearly
protect
people
from
getting
sick
with
Covid-19.
But
the
clinical
trials
that
delivered
these
results
were
not
designed
to
determine
whether
vaccinated
people
could
still
spread
the
coronavirus
without
developing
symptoms.
That
remains
a
possibility.
We
know
that
people
who
are
naturally
infected
by
the
coronavirus
can
spread
it
while
they’re
not
experiencing
any
cough
or
other
symptoms.
Researchers will
be
intensely
studying
this
question
as
the
vaccines
roll
out.
In
the
meantime,
even
vaccinated
people
will
need
to
think
of
themselves
as
possible
spreaders.

The
Pfizer
and
BioNTech
vaccine
is
delivered
as
a
shot
in
the
arm,
like
other
typical
vaccines.
The
injection
won’t
be
any
different
from
ones
you’ve
gotten
before.
Tens
of
thousands
of
people
have
already
received
the
vaccines,
and
none
of
them
have
reported
any
serious
health
problems.
But
some
of
them
have
felt
short-lived
discomfort,
including
aches
and
flu-like
symptoms
that
typically
last
a
day.
It’s
possible
that
people
may
need
to
plan
to
take
a
day
off
work
or
school
after
the
second
shot.
While
these
experiences
aren’t
pleasant,
they
are
a
good
sign:
they
are
the
result
of
your
own
immune
system
encountering
the
vaccine
and
mounting
a
potent
response
that
will
provide
long-lasting
immunity.

No.
The
vaccines
from
Moderna
and
Pfizer
use
a
genetic
molecule
to
prime
the
immune
system.
That
molecule,
known
as
mRNA,
is
eventually
destroyed
by
the
body.
The
mRNA
is
packaged
in
an
oily
bubble
that
can
fuse
to
a
cell,
allowing
the
molecule
to
slip
in.
The
cell
uses
the
mRNA
to
make
proteins
from
the
coronavirus,
which
can
stimulate
the
immune
system.
At
any
moment,
each
of
our
cells
may
contain
hundreds
of
thousands
of
mRNA
molecules,
which
they
produce
in
order
to
make
proteins
of
their
own.
Once
those
proteins
are
made,
our
cells
then
shred
the
mRNA
with
special
enzymes.
The
mRNA
molecules
our
cells
make
can
only
survive
a
matter
of
minutes.
The
mRNA
in
vaccines
is
engineered
to
withstand
the
cell’s
enzymes
a
bit
longer,
so
that
the
cells
can
make
extra
virus
proteins
and
prompt
a
stronger
immune
response.
But
the
mRNA
can
only
last
for
a
few
days
at
most
before
they
are
destroyed.

“My
jaw
dropped
when
I
saw
the
table
of
outcomes,”
said
Dr.
Myron
Cohen,
a
professor
of
medicine
at
the
University
of
North
Carolina
at
Chapel
Hill,
and
a
principal
investigator
who
helped
design
and
implement
the
study.

Although
the
study
has
ended,
Dr.
Daniel
Skovronsky,
Eli
Lilly’s
chief
scientific
officer,
said
the
company
would
continue
to
rush
to
nursing
homes
in
its
study
network
when
an
outbreak
is
detected.
“Everyone
will
get
the
drug,”
he
said.

Experts
who
were
not
part
of
the
study
were
enthusiastic,
but
emphasized
that
they
had
not
yet
seen
complete
data.
“I
see
only
positives
here,”
said
Dr.
Ofer
Levy,
director
of
the
precision
vaccine
program
at
Boston
Children’s
Hospital.
“This
is
a
win.”

Dr.
Kathleen
Neuzil,
director
of
the
Center
for
Vaccine
Development
and
Global
Health
at
the
University
of
Maryland,
also
was
encouraged.

“The
mortality
effect
is
remarkable,”
she
said,
adding
that
the
drug
should
be
used
more
widely
to
prevent
and
treat
Covid-19,
“particularly
in
populations
such
as
nursing
home
residents,
who
have
high
mortality
and
may
have
suboptimal
responses
to
vaccines.”

Vaccines,
of
course,
also
protect
people
from
infection
with
the
virus,
and
nursing
home
staff
and
residents
were
among
the
first
group
prioritized
for
the
shots.
But
supplies
are
inadequate,
and
many
nursing
home
workers,
afraid
of
the
vaccines,
have
declined
to
get
them.

And
following
vaccination,
it
can
take
six
weeks
for
the
body
to
produce
enough
antibodies
for
maximum
protection,
said
Dr.
Srilatha
Edupuganti,
a
vaccine
researcher
at
Emory
University
in
Atlanta
and
a
study
investigator.

The
monoclonal
antibody
treatment,
she
said,
can
give
nearly
equivalent
protection
immediately,
although
it
will
not
last
as
long
as
the
protection
offered
by
a
vaccine.

Eli
Lilly
plans
to
approach
the
F.D.A.
about
an
emergency
use
authorization
for
use
of
the
drug
to
prevent
infections
in
frail
older
populations,
especially
those
in
nursing
homes
or
long-term
care
facilities,
Dr.
Skovronsky
said.

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