A new drug could slash the risk of care home residents contracting Covid-19 by 80 per cent, a recent study has found. Scientists in the US discovered bamlanivimab can prevent the disease from getting worse in elderly patients, as well as stopping its spread to other residents and staff.
Bamlanivimab has been developed by the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company and works by stopping the virus from being able to infect human cells. This in turn means the risk of catching the virus is greatly reduced, therefore cutting the number of hospital admissions.
Research conducted on 1,000 care home residents and staff pitted the drug against a placebo. In both the elderly and their careers combined, bamlanivimab cut transmission of Covid-19 by 57 per cent, but when looking at the results of just the residents, the drug prevented 80 per cent of infections.
The study observed that of the 299 residents that initially tested negative for coronavirus and weren’t given the drug, four went on to die from the virus. A further 41 elderly people who tested positive were administered with bamlanivimab and all survived.
Prof Daniel Altmann, Department of Immunology and Inflammation, Imperial College London, said: “This is a big result when one considers the massively disproportionate disease burden and fatalities around the world in care homes.
“So, good news. Since the antibody might stay in the system for a few months, this offers a means of seeing vulnerable groups through a high-risk period.”
It has been welcomed by other experts as a way to both treat and prevent coronavirus in a demographic that has been hard hit by the pandemic. Bamlanivimab is the first drug that seems to work as a preventative measure against coronavirus.
The Food and Drug Administration in the US has already authorised bamlanivimab to treat mild or moderate cases of Covid-19. Now, Eli Lilly will seek approval for use as a preventative move that could help to stop the spread of the virus in its tracks.
It’s not yet known whether bamlanivimab will be used in the UK, but the focus is currently on the vaccine, which is likely to provide immunity for longer than the drug. It could, however, be a useful weapon in a varied arsenal as the world tries to cut deaths and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs this week that almost two-thirds of all elderly care home residents in England have been vaccinated against coronavirus. That equates to 4.6 million people.