Who gets the first doses, where antibody drug tests stand & how Americans feel — 8 updates on the COVID-19 vaccine

 

Companies are making progress on developing a COVID-19 vaccine, and experts are thinking about how it will be distributed among the population.

Here are eight updates on the COVID-19 vaccine and antibody drug tests:

AstraZeneca expects COVID-19 vaccine results this year, the company said Nov. 5. Late-stage trials could produce results this year, with distribution coming shortly after. Timing of the results depends on community infection rates worldwide.

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses are expected to go to healthcare workers, according to the CDC. The decision is based on the science of what will end the pandemic the quickest. The vaccine will go to those interacting with patients as well as anyone who works in hospitals, such as food delivery people and maintenance people.

Pfizer's interim analysis of its COVID-19 vaccine trial found the candidate can prevent more than 90 percent of infections, according to a Nov. 9 announcement. The vaccine is more effective than experts anticipated; the FDA requires 50 percent efficacy to be cleared for use.

Six in 10 Americans said they would receive a COVID-19 vaccine if the infection risk would be lowered by half, according to a survey from and The Harris Poll. The poll surveyed 1,954 adults and found 56 percent of respondents between ages 18-34 would be likely to get the vaccine. However, 64 percent of them said they would take the vaccine if it reduced infection risk by 75 percent.

Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody drug test got emergency FDA approval, according to a Nov. 9 announcement. The drug, called bamlanivimab, was authorized for use in COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate disease. It's authorized for patients 12 years and older, along with populations at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19.

CMS detailed payment distribution plans for antibody drugs for COVID-19, a spokesperson said. Initial doses of the drug purchased by the government would be allocated to hospitals at no cost. Medicare would pay for the costs of drug administration for beneficiaries. HHS will use the same method to distribute antibody drugs as it did for remdesivir.

Some Operation Warp Speed third-party contracts lack consumer protections, according to documents shared by HHS. Contracts include the program's $1 billion agreement with Johnson & Johnson to buy 100 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. However, it doesn't have customary protections against price-gouging.

The Novartis arthritis drug failed to benefit COVID-19 patients, the drugmaker said Nov. 6. The drug, called Ilaris, didn't improve survival rates or affect the death rate of COVID-19 patients. However, the company said the finding helped improve scientific understanding of COVID-19 and the role of similar drugs.

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