Experimental COVID-19 Therapeutic Drug No Help to Patients with Advanced Stage of Virus

U.S. government researchers say an experimental COVID-19 therapeutic drug is not effective at treating patients hospitalized with an advanced stage of the novel coronavirus.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued a statement Monday saying it would no longer recruit new patients to take part in a clinical trial of the experimental drug, called bamlanivimab.

The drug, developed by U.S.-based drugmaker Eli Lilly and Canadian-based biotech firm AbCellera, is part of a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, which are made to act as immune cells that scientists hope can fight off the virus. The antibody therapy was similar to one given to U.S. President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

The clinical trial was paused earlier this month by independent monitors because of safety concerns. The study, which launched in August, aimed to enroll 10,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients in the United States.

Eli Lilly has already applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization for the drug to be used for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 infections based on preliminary results from a different clinical trial.

The United States is in the midst of a dramatic surge of new COVID-19 cases, with more than 66,000 confirmed on Monday, according to data released by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of new infections has pushed several cities and states to a crisis point, including the southwestern city of El Paso, Texas, where the number of coronavirus patients has tripled to more than 800 patients over the past three weeks.

The situation has become so dire in the border city that officials have imposed a strict 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and a two-week stay-at-home order. The judge who issued the curfew order said the intensive care units in all of the city’s hospitals were completely full.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has unveiled plans to house between 50 to 100 patients in El Paso’s convention center, and has even inquired about housing non-coronavirus patients at a U.S. Army hospital in the area.

In the western state of Utah, a group representing the state’s hospitals have warned Gov. Gary Herbert that the facilities are reaching the point where they may have to start rationing care, where doctors would have to determine who could remain in the hospital based on factors such as age and overall health.

The situation is steadily improving in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, which posted a second consecutive day Tuesday with no new coronavirus infections. The initial milestone on Monday was the first COVID-19-free day since June 9.

Melbourne and the state of Victoria had been plagued by a massive spike of new coronavirus cases, peaking in August when daily new cases rose above 700. The resurgence of new cases has been blamed on security lapses at hotels where travelers were being quarantined after arriving from overseas.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced Monday that Melbourne’s five million citizens will be able to leave their homes effective Tuesday at midnight, and that all cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels will be allowed to reopen.

Source: Voice of America