INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly is hard at work helping fight the coronavirus.
The Indianapolis company expanded its coronavirus drive-thru testing at its facility on Wednesday. Along with health care workers and first responders, testing will now also be available for essential workers who have regular contact with the public and people over the age of 65 who are showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
CEO Dave Ricks says they’ve also been working, from the start of the pandemic, to help find a vaccine.
“Our scientists are clever,” he said. “As this crisis began unfolding, even in Asia in late January, we began discussions on how we can help.”
Ricks added that they’ve been trying different ways to find a cure for COVID-19.
“We looked at existing therapies that are proof for something else and could be useful in addressing the virus and killing it or slowing it down,” he said. “We have several candidates there, and you can expect future announcements soon and clinical trials will be starting with medicine that’s already in our hands.”
Lilly has also been looking at creating new medicine, by studying the antibodies from surviving patients in the United States, and turning their antibodies into a medicine. Ricks said they hope to start a trial on that this summer.
While working on the coronavirus, the company still has employees working on their usual products, like insulin. Ricks says they’re still working every day, so patients don’t have to worry about any shortages.
Eli Lilly also joined other Indiana companies and organizations Thursday to team up with Governor Eric Holcomb for a new statewide social distancing campaign, called “#INThisTogether.”
“We’re trying to get that Hoosier spirit around, what is, an inconvenient thing to do every day,” Ricks said. “But it will actually save lives. Even though we may never know the person that we might have affected.”
Ricks believes social distancing really does make a difference. He says there is proof in other states.
“In a few states, they were slower to respond and were less effective in social distancing, and now they’re having just a horrible time, and it’s causing not just suffering, but the loss of life. On the other hand, there are states that moved early and have flattened their curve. They have less growth in cases, and that’s where we want to be as Hoosiers. We want to be on those flatter curves.”
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH ELI LILLY CEO DAVE RICKS: