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October 30, 2020

Covid-19 roundup: HHS reaches $375M deal for 300K doses of Eli Lilly's Covid-19 antibody treatment

Daily Briefing
    • AstraZeneca on Monday announced that its coronavirus vaccine candidate triggers an immune response in older adults, which a spokesperson for the company said is "encouraging." The immune response generated in older adults was similar to the response generated in younger people, and adverse responses to the vaccine were comparatively lower in older adults, AstraZeneca said (Sullivan, The Hill, 10/26).

    • Eli Lilly on Wednesday announced that it has reached a $375 million deal with HHS, under which the federal government will purchase 300,000 doses of Lilly's experimental antibody treatment for Covid-19 if the drug receives FDA's authorization for use in the United States. Under the agreement, each vial of the treatment will cost $1,250. Health officials have said patients receiving the treatment will not face out-of-pocket costs for the drug, but hospitals could charge a fee for administering the treatment (Loftus, Wall Street Journal, 10/28).

    • Researchers from Imperial College London last week said they will launch the first so-called "human challenge trials" to test a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. For the trials, researchers will first administer a vaccine candidate to healthy volunteers, and then inject the volunteers with the coronavirus. The researchers will then monitor the volunteers to see if they develop Covid-19 (Booth/Johnson, Washington Post, 10/20; Associated Press, 10/20).

    • Infusions of blood plasma from patients who recovered from Covid-19 have been shown to have no effect on whether a Covid-19 patient got sicker or died, according to a study recently published in BMJ. For the study, researchers evaluated 464 Covid-19 patients at 39 hospitals in India and found that 19% of the patients who received the plasma infusion developed severe Covid-19 or died within 28 days, compared with 18% of those who did not receive plasma. However, more than 80% of the participants in the study already had antibodies against Covid-19, which suggests they contracted the virus at least a week before their treatment. According to Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, that's too late to likely benefit from the experimental plasma treatment (Garde/Herper, STAT News, 10/22; Pass, Medscape, 10/23).

    • Moderna on Thursday announced that its coronavirus vaccine trial is fully enrolled with 30,000 participants. According to Moderna, more than a third of the participants are people of color, including about 20% who are Hispanic and 10% who are Black. "I think that we have done quite well," said Larry Corey, a virologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who is leading clinical trials under Operation Warp Speed, which is the Trump administration's coronavirus vaccine development effort. Moderna projects that it will have early data on the vaccine candidate within the next month (Johnson, Washington Post, 10/22).

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