Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. is giving indications it will continue its proactive, aggressive approach to attacking the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is currently partnering with Canada-based AbCellera on the world’s first study of a potential antibody treatment for COVID-19 and expects initial results in a matter of weeks. Lilly has also served as a backstop for the Indiana State Department of Health and its pandemic testing efforts and Lilly Chief Executive Officer Dave Ricks says the next phase of that testing partnership should be permanent, regionalized capacity to provide testing and quick results.
He’s hopeful such a system could be in place this summer. “So we need sites in South Bend, in Fort Wayne and Evansville and that’s what we’re working with the state on is to replicate our lab in those places,” said Ricks, who adds Hoosier companies have told him they want to know how they can get employees tested and a result back in 24 hours.
Ricks talked about the company’s response to the pandemic and its impact on the business on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Ricks says based on what the company was seeing in late January and early February at its major facilities in countries including China, France, Spain and Italy, “it wasn’t too difficult to determine at that point that this was going to be a major issue in the U.S. and we’d better get to work on major business continuity plans.”
In early March, Lilly was among the first companies in Indiana to ask employees to work from home and Ricks says in hindsight, the decision was a good one, adding the process of returning employees to the workplace will take place slowly.
Also in March, Lilly announced a partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health to accelerate testing for the virus that causes COVID-19, offering research laboratories to analyze samples taken at Hoosier healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and emergency rooms.
Ricks says Lilly has helped support about 30-40% of the testing in Indiana so far.