SE Texas ER & Hospital now offers monoclonal antibody therapy as an alternative COVID-19 treatment option for those who meet the criteria mentioned below. The infusion therapy offered, Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab, is under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Admisinstration (FDA). Monoclonal antibody therapy is not remdesivir, a separate COVID-19 infusion treatment also under EUA.
Bamlanivimab contains man-made antibodies, similar to those found in COVID-19 patients, that make up the neutralizing antibody medicine administered through IV. These antibodies imitate the immune system’s capability to fight harmful antigens, like viruses, and are specifically directed to block the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 from attaching and entering human cells. In simple terms, the COVID-19 virus strain will become inactive once the monoclonal antibodies bind to it.
According to the FDA, “based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA, it is reasonable to believe that bamlanivimab may be effective in treating mild to moderate COVID-19.”
Who can receive this treatment?
The target audience for monoclonal antibody therapy are adults and children 12 years or older experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, and those who are at high risk for having severe symptoms.
In order for the treatment to be most effective, it should be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms.
According to the FDA, high risk is defined as patients meeting at least one of the following criteria, who:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25
- Have chronic kidney disease
- Have diabetes
- Have an immunosuppressive disease
- Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Are ≥ 65 years of age
- Are ≥ 55 years of age AND have cardiovascular disease, OR hypertension, OR, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/other chronic respiratory diseases.
Please tell your health care provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- Have any allergies
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
- Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed
- Have any serious illnesses
- Are taking any medications (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, and herbal products)
Is it safe?
The FDA states, “as part of our Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, the FDA uses every possible pathway to make new treatments available to patients as quickly as possible while continuing to study the safety and effectiveness of these treatments.”
Reported side effects of monoclonal antibody treatment include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, itchiness, and vomiting. It is feasible that possible risks have not been discovered yet. As with many treatments, it’s a personal decision that should be made with risk versus reward in mind. For example, if someone is high risk or suffering moderate COVID-19 symptoms that could progress, most would argue the possible side effects are worth the chance to avoid severe symptoms and/or hospitalization.
Our premier care facility offers a safe environment for patients to receive the monoclonal antibody infusion. Each IV will be administered by our highly trained staff of licensed healthcare professionals. We have been community leaders in offering our services throughout the pandemic, and we are proud to continue leading innovation in breakthrough COVID-19 treatment.