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Boone Memorial Hospital announces Infusion Clinic for COVID-19 antibody treatment

- A key component in fighting the disease -

Written by: Karlie Belle Price, Director of Public Relations and Marketing

Patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have a new treatment option at Boone Memorial Hospital. Monoclonal antibody treatments are available and becoming a key element in the fight against COVID-19.

Monoclonal antibodies are designed for patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, who have a high risk of developing complications and becoming seriously ill. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins created in a laboratory to mimic the human immune system. The treatment works by imitating natural defenses, instead of waiting for the body to mount its own response, and makes it harder for the coronavirus to infect human cells.

“The goal of monoclonal antibodies is to keep patients from worsening,” said Amy Sayre, MD; Chief of Medical Staff at Boone Memorial Hospital. “In order for the antibody treatments to be effective, however, they should be given within 10 days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms,” Dr. Sayre explained.

“Monoclonal antibodies are a class of medicines that have transformed the way we prevent and treat diseases,” said Dana Sloan-Weekley, PharmD; Director of BMH Inpatient Pharmacy. “They are not new,” Sloan-Weekley explained. “Monoclonal antibody treatments have been used for over 30 years to treat cancer, childhood viral infections, diseases of the immune system and more.”

Monoclonal antibodies are manmade versions of the antibodies that our bodies naturally make to fight invaders, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) – they are tailor-made to the disease they treat.

“Basically the antibodies work by binding to their specific targets – for example viruses, bacteria or cancerous cells – and making them harmless,” said Dr. Sayre. “They block the action of the target, or they flag it as foreign so that other parts of our immune system can clear the ‘invaders’ away. Once administered, monoclonal antibodies enter the bloodstream straight away and offer immediate protection for a few weeks or months.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) in November for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients. Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody that is specifically directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), designed to block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells.

Bamlanivimab is authorized for patients with mild to moderate symptoms and positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral (COVID-19) testing who are 12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds), and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. This includes those who are 65 years of age or older, or who have certain chronic medical conditions. Those younger than 65 must have a certain number of risk factors. Bamlanivimab is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19, who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, or who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in those on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19 related conditions.

“We understand that the criteria to receive treatment can be confusing,” said Angie Christian, Executive Director of Ancillary Services. “We encourage patients to call their doctor, once they test positive for the coronavirus, to determine if they meet the criteria. Those who do meet the criteria can start the one-hour infusion process in our Infusion Center at Boone Memorial Hospital,” Christian explained.

“While we realize the safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy continues to be evaluated, bamlanivimab was shown in clinical trials to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression,” said Dr. Sayre. “It is very encouraging.”

Some health officials say this treatment is expected to cut down on hospitalizations by 50%.

“To have another level of defense to use against COVID-19 is very promising,” said Christian. “It’s our goal to keep our patients and community safe. This is another way we can do that. We established the monoclonal antibody treatment here at Boone Memorial Hospital to not only prevent hospitalization but to help reduce severity of illness for the patient.”

To make an appointment, please call Boone Memorial Hospital today at 304-369-1230, Ext. 5525.

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