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Eli Lilly Shares Jump After Healthcare Group Doses First Patients in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Eli Lilly said its early stage vaccine trial is "the world's first study of a potential antibody treatment designed to fight COVID-19"

Eli Lilly & Co.  (LLY)  shares jumped higher Monday after the healthcare group started providing patients with doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine in what it said was the world's first study of a potential antibody to the global disease.

Lilly said its LY-CoV555 treatment, which could create antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, was given to patients as part of early stage trials at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in in Los Angeles. 

"Antibody therapies such as LY-CoV555 may have potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and may be particularly important for groups hardest hit by the disease such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems," said Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly's chief scientific officer.

"Later this month, we will review the results of this first human study and intend to initiate broader efficacy trials. At the same time as we are investigating safety and efficacy, we also are starting large-scale manufacturing of this potential therapy," he added. "If LY-CoV555 becomes part of the near-term solution for COVID-19, we want to be ready to deliver it to patients as quickly as possible, with the goal of having several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year."

Eli Lilly shares were marked 1% lower in early trading Monday to change hands at $151.50 each. 

Lilly nudged its 2020 profit guidance modestly higher in late April after sales of its Trulicity diabetes treatment hit $1.3 billion over the first three months of the year helping earnings beat Street forecasts.

Looking into 2020, Lilly said it sees non-GAAP earnings in the range of $6.70 to $6.90 per share, a 10 cent improvement to the higher end of its prior forecast. Full year revenues were confirmed in the region of $23.6 billion to $24.2 billion, the company said.

"Lilly is rising to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it be by supporting our employees, our communities, patients with chronic diseases who are the most vulnerable to the virus, or directly attacking the disease with new and existing therapies," said CEO David Ricks. "Lilly's purpose - to make life better - has never been more important. We're focused on reliably supplying medicines, keeping our employees safe and pushing scientific efforts at top speed to defeat COVID-19."