The search for a viable COVID-19 treatment or vaccine continues as biotech companies engage in clinical trials. A few weeks ago, there have been several promising findings published online, which means researchers can proceed to the next phase upon approval from regulators. Now, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based pharmaceutical group Eli Lilly and Company confirmed the start of human trials of its coronavirus antibody treatment. Results are expected to become available before the month ends.

The volunteers are currently in the care of facilities such as Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Emory University in Atlanta, and Grossman School of Medicine of the New York University in New York, as reported by CNN. The preliminary stage will verify if the drug is generally safe without any notable side effects. If well-tolerated, the manufacturer projects that it can make it available before 2020 ends.

Eli Lilly and Company senior vice president and chief scientific officer, Dr. Dan Skovronsky, stated: "Until now, scientists have been trying to repurpose medicines, drugs, that were designed for new diseases to see if they work in Covid-19, but as soon as this epidemic started, we got to work making a new medicine against this disease." He then added: "Now we're ready and testing it in patients."

Canadian biotechnology firm AbCellera, one of its major partners, worked with blood samples from patients who recovered from 2019 novel coronavirus to identify the most promising antibodies. With help from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the team then developed a monoclonal antibody therapy similar to those used to treat other ailments.

Skovronsky noted: "If it does work, we don't want to waste a single day, we want to have as much medicine as possible available to help as many people quickly." For those closely following the latest developments related to SARS-CoV-2, this is not the first of its kind. Last month, Sorrento Therapeutics announced that its antibody therapy was 100 percent successful.

US biotech firm
A US biotech firm Moderna has reported 'positive interim' results in early testing of a vaccine candidate Photo: AFP / Thibault Savary

Nevertheless, health experts wanted to remind the public that until a vaccine becomes available, the ordeal is not yet over. While it would be of great help to those who are infected with varying degrees of symptoms, others are still at risk of contracting the disease.