The drug maker Eli Lilly said on Monday that its antibody treatment was ineffective on patients hospitalized with advanced Covid-19 and that a government-sponsored trial would not administer the drug to new participants.
The company said that other trials of the treatment, in people who are not as sick or who have been exposed to the virus, would continue, and that it remained optimistic that the treatment could work if given early in the course of the disease.
Earlier this month, Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said he had received the experimental treatment shortly after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. President Trump received a similar therapy, made by Regeneron, soon after he was infected. Both companies have applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of the treatment in outpatients.
Eli Lilly’s trial of hospitalized patients was being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and was paused two weeks ago after an outside safety panel flagged a “potential safety concern.”
Government officials said at the time that an independent board of scientific experts had found that after five days of treatment, the group of patients who had received the antibodies showed a different “clinical status” than the group who had received a saline placebo — a difference that crossed a predetermined threshold for safety.
On Monday, Eli Lilly said the recommendation to discontinue use of the antibody treatment, called bamlanivimab, “was based on trial data suggesting that bamlanivimab is unlikely to help hospitalized Covid-19 patients recover from this advanced stage of their disease.” The company also said “differences in safety outcomes between the groups were not significant.”
Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert at the Scripps Research Institute who has been following the treatment’s development, said the news “tells us they stopped the trial due to futility, as suspected,” and that it “suggests that the timing of monoclonal antibody administration — early — will be important.”
Other trials of the antibody treatment have shown early promise in people who were newly infected with the virus, showing that it can lower viral levels in patients and reduce visits to the emergency room and hospital.
The virus surge in the El Paso metropolitan area has gotten so bad so fast that local officials are taking drastic action, imposing a two-week stay-at-home order and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that took effect Sunday night.
The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in this region along the Mexico border is soaring, and officials are scrambling to make space for them by setting up overflow beds in a convention center and under tents in parking lots and by flying patients out to medical centers outside the area.
As a third surge has taken hold in the country, the El Paso metro area now ranks 11th in the nation in coronavirus cases relative to its population, according to a New York Times database. The only cities that rank higher in this fall wave are in hard-hit Idaho, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
The swell of cases comes as case numbers in the United States has reached alarming records in recent days as outbreaks continue to grow across the country. While daily numbers of deaths are still lower than they were in the spring, at least 339 new coronavirus deaths and 59,691 new cases were reported in the United States on Oct. 25.
Over the past week, the U.S. has averaged nearly 70,000 new cases reported each day, an increase of 32 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
Texas has overtaken California as the state that has recorded the most cases, with over 900,000 since the pandemic began and a per capita case rate that ranks 17th in the nation. Its seven-day average of new cases is approaching 6,000, far below its July peak of over 10,000 but climbing sharply.
In El Paso, the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 has more than tripled over the past three weeks, officials said. As of Monday morning, the total was 853, according to the University Medical Center of El Paso, where the coronavirus patient count has doubled in four days.
As of Sunday, one-third of all the patients in the region’s hospitals had Covid-19, according the county’s curfew order. The top elected executive in El Paso, County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego, wrote in the order that hospital intensive-care units were completely full.
Violations to the order would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Mr. Samaniego also “strongly encouraged” the suspension of all extracurricular activities in schools.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas announced on Sunday that the state would…