Eli Lilly’s coronavirus antibody treatment will be needed even if there is a vaccine, CEO says

Eli Lilly Chairman and CEO Dave Ricks told CNBC on Tuesday the company’s coronavirus antibody drug will still be an important treatment for Covid-19, even if a widely available vaccine is brought to market.

The Food and Drug Administration granted Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment emergency use authorization Monday evening, allowing it to be given to non-hospitalized patients who are at high risk of developing severe Covid-19. The goal of this class of drugs is to boost the immune system’s defenses and prevent the virus from infecting human cells.

On Monday morning, Pfizer also released data from its late-stage clinical trial that showed its vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 in patients who had not been infected previously.

“I am so pleased to hear about Pfizer’s news yesterday, and we hope that makes us obsolete. I don’t think it will,” Ricks said Monday on “Squawk Box.” “Even in well-controlled [other] respiratory illness … we still have vaccination and antibody therapy because some patients escape the vaccine and still get the condition, and they need to be managed with a therapy,” he explained. “This will be useful” in fighting Covid-19 as well, he added.

President Donald Trump received an antibody drug similar to Lilly’s for his Covid-19 diagnosis last month. Trump, who received a therapy produced by Regeneron, has touted those types of treatments to help patients. Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and ally of the president, was given the Lilly treatment when he was in the hospital with coronavirus earlier this fall.

Eli Lilly submitted its emergency use authorization in early October. The stock was moving higher by more than 3% in early trading Tuesday.

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