Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) revealed Monday on its website that it has designed and built a fleet of traveling laboratories to support its COVID-19 research. Their first task: To bring a phase 3 clinical trial of its LY-CoV555 coronavirus antibody treatment candidate directly to the residents and staff of senior care facilities.
The pharmaceutical giant started its project by modifying Coachmen recreational vehicles; it now has an unspecified number of "mobile research units" (MRUs).
As the MRUs travel to various senior care facilities, everything necessary for testing is either onboard or brought along in accompanying equipment trucks, and the researchers do the testing onsite.
The company claims that this is the first COVID-19 clinical study of its kind. The project is being undertaken in partnership with the government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) -- the organization headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci -- and its specialty unit, the COVID-19 Prevention Network. Eli Lilly has not specified how many senior care facilities it has tested at, or how many it plans to visit with its MRUs.
Such facilities have suffered some of the most concentrated outbreaks of the disease. Eli Lilly cited a New York Times article indicating that as of July 30, more than 40% of all U.S. coronavirus-related deaths had occurred at senior care homes; both residents and facility employees have fallen victim. All told, according to the article, over 362,000 people in roughly 16,000 facilities have so far been infected by the coronavirus.