Thank you very much, Amy and good afternoon, everyone. We had another productive quarter in the first quarter of 2021 with CytoSorb sales of $10.1 million, up 24% from $8.2 million a year ago, with the core underlying non-COVID business accounting for 82% of sales and 27% growth year-over-year. We believe that sales would have been higher. One moment. We believe that sales would have been even higher, if not for broad restrictions and lockdowns throughout Europe and other countries that impacted sales activities and also rapidly declining new COVID-19 cases globally in the first two months of the quarter. Blended product gross margins were 77% in the first quarter of 2021 versus 76% in the first quarter of 2020.
Excluding non-recurring one-time items in the first quarter of 2021 that Kathy will detail in later on in her presentation. Product gross margins were 81%.
We also ended the quarter with a solid balance sheet with $68.5 million in cash and no long-term debt.
During the quarter, we delivered greater than 131,000 cumulative CytoSorb cartridges to date, which is up 49% from 88,000 a year ago, with distribution across 67 countries.
We also treated more than 5,750 COVID-19 patients cumulatively now in more than 30 countries, including here in the United States under FDA Emergency Use Authorization granted in April of 2020.
We also during the quarter entered into a global co-marketing agreement with B Braun Avitum, the third largest dialysis company in the world and a division of B Braun, with EUR 7.5 billion in worldwide sales. And during the quarter, we also - and just recently we received FDA IDE conditional approval to begin the US STAR-T trial with first patients targeted for the third quarter of this year. In the first quarter, the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, KMFDS, also approved CytoSorb for all equivalent EU approved indications in Korea that has a population of 52 million in South Korea, in collaboration with our partner Fresenius Medical Care. Health Canada also authorized CytoSorb for use in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Canada, with a population of about 38 million people.
During the quarter, we also appointed two industry veterans, with strong medical device backgrounds, that will help us guide future success in the future.
The first is James Komsa, who was appointed as Vice President of US Sales and Marketing was formerly a Vice President of the Restorative Therapies Group and Pain Group at Medtronic and also formerly a Vice President of the North East Cardiac and Vascular Group at Medtronic who knows the cardiac surgery area extremely well. Dr. David Cox joined us as Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs. He was formerly the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the Tissue and Regenerative Technologies division at Integra Lifesciences.
We also accelerated our clinical marketing of CytoSorb with in-depth webinars in a wide variety of different areas, most notably as a liver dialysis therapy in patients with liver disease and in cardiac surgery applications, particularly anti-thrombotic removal. And last but not least, we signed our lease for our new Princeton, New Jersey headquarters and began building out our new manufacturing facility that is expected to support sales of roughly $350 million to $400 million in sales. And potential product gross margins in excess of 85%.
During the quarter, we also opened the new CytoSorbents Logistics Hub in Berlin, Germany, an expanded warehouse and distribution facility to accommodate our current and future growth.
So let's talk a bit about what COVID-19 doing worldwide and how this relates to our business.
As we presented in our last earnings call, on the upper left-hand side, this was the activity of COVID in March of 2021. We were just starting to see a surge in activity in Latin America, as well as in Europe. Fast forward that by two months, you can see that the numbers of new cases have grown dramatically in South America, in Europe and middle - the Middle East, as well as we've all heard in India, where they're experiencing roughly 350,000 new cases a day.
On the lower right-hand side, you can see the numbers of new cases of COVID-19 worldwide, within the green bars is the first quarter. And what you can see here is that in the first two quarters, after peaking very early in January, the cases of COVID dropped quite dramatically in the first quarter to roughly 300,000 or so cases a day.
I think that a lot of people had a lot of optimism regarding the availability of vaccines, and did not think that COVID-19 would be much of a problem anymore. But as we cited in the last earnings call, we started to see a plateauing and sure enough, towards the end of the quarter, you can see the rapid rise in new cases of COVID-19 worldwide. And that has helped serve fuel a strengthening of our CytoSorb business related to COVID-19 across our business areas.
So we expect that COVID-19 is expected to contribute to product sales in the second quarter of 2021 and likely for the remainder of the year. But the magnitude may depend on multiple factors, including the rates of vaccination. In the United States, it's a very different story.
As you can see in early March, there was a scattered, low level activity throughout the country. And even in early May, although there were some hotspots like Michigan and Oregon and also Washington State, you can see generally speaking, the rates of COVID-19 new cases have been relatively flat. And you can see that in the upper right-hand corner in the red graph, where you can see that the numbers of new cases have kind of plateaued. But the rates of hospitalization and death fortunately have dropped dramatically. And although it may not have been the case previously, it is likely the case now that vaccinations are having finally an impact with 32% of the US population fully vaccinated or 106 million people with 45% or 148 million people with at least one dose, a total of 247 million doses have been administered in the US to date. And this contrast to even large countries like Germany, one of the leading health care countries in the world, with only 8% of their population fully vaccinated or 6.6 million, with 28% with at least one dose or roughly 23, 24 million people. And this, the numbers get even worse when you look worldwide are only 3.6% of the world's population are fully vaccinated. And you can see that the United States accounts for more than a third of all of the patients fully vaccinated worldwide. And only 7.8% have at least had one dose or 609 million people.
So, this next slide, coming back to the slide that I presented in the last earnings call, we can safely say that we are not quite in the new normal yet. COVID continues to delay our pre-COVID-19 growth strategy. But that being said, you can see what we have accomplished in the first quarter. We're certainly not standing still and we're working diligently in the background on making sure that we return to our non-COVID growth - our non-COVID-19 growth business as soon as possible. To give you more color on our clinical activities, let me turn it over now to our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Makis Deliargyris. Makis?