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Eli Lilly pauses antibody trial over potential safety concern

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous, Brian Sozzi, and Anjalee Khemlani discuss the UnitedHealth’s earnings report, and the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccine front.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: We are also focused this morning on the medical sector. Health insurer, UnitedHealth, out with its quarterly earnings report. The company benefited here from lower health care spending earlier in the year. That helped to offset some COVID-related costs. Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani for more on this. Good morning, Anjalee. All right, so first let's just break down UnitedHealth's report.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Right. So what we can tell from the report, is really exactly what you outlined, and it kind of follows in line with what we're expecting to see from insurers across the industry. And that is, continued growth in revenue, but also a little bit of pick back up from the lost care utilization from the pandemic's peak in the country. And so from Q2 to Q3, you're going to see that minimum decline.

And we're also hearing from UnitedHealth that they're really pushing into again, also aligned with industry, into more of senior care. And that's really where the majority of their boost came from, is from that senior care and government care sector. And also looking at Medicare Advantage. That's something that they're expanding for the upcoming year. And it's set to be a really competitive market across the industry. UnitedHealth being among those players that is looking to really take advantage of some of the savings. They've said they've seen about 40% savings compared to traditional Medicare from this Medicare Advantage sector. That's really big.

That's something I've recently written about that has a lot to do with the growing aging population. And so they're really targeting that sector right now. Meanwhile, we know that they've also helped across the board when it comes to contact tracing and clinical trials, helping providers get protective equipment. All their things that they sort of had expenses on during the pandemic, but still wasn't enough to make up for the loss of care that was in demand. So that's the full picture right now.

BRIAN SOZZI: And Anjalee, we're seeing pressure on Eli Lilly after they paused trials of their COVID-19 antibody treatment. What's the latest here?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's correct. Still no details really about exactly what happened. The latest that I heard from the company yesterday was that they agreed with the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board that alerted the trial sites that they needed to pause out of an abundance of caution for a potential serious event. So we're waiting to hear more details on that right now.

It's one of those things that, as I mentioned yesterday when we heard about Johnson & Johnson's vaccine's paused trial, that it's something that is kind of expected. They do need to wait and watch when any of these things happen. And that's why late stage trials are so important. But what's interesting too, is this throws into question Eli Lilly's emergency use authorization for the antibody cocktail, which it applied for along with Regeneron after President Trump received Regeneron's antibody cocktail treatment.

And really puts the pressure, puts the spotlight rather, on the sector right now, on antibody cocktail treatments and antibody treatments at large, which are really gaining momentum as people wait for the vaccine process to come through. All hopes are sort of pinned on antibody treatments, not just for being a bridge between vaccines and treatments until we have one, but also for those who cannot receive vaccines, these treatments are set to be in lieu of vaccines for some individuals.