IRON RIVER, Mich. (WJMN) – On March 10, Aspirus Health treated their 300th patient with an experimental COVID-19 antibody treatment.
The treatment uses a drug called Bamlanivimab, it’s an infusion therapy intended for people who have COVID-19 and are at higher risk for hospitalization or developing severe symptoms. According to Nicole Anderson, Physician Assistant at Aspirus- Iron River Hospital, there are five criteria a person must meet to receive the treatment; they must have tested positive for COVID-19, experienced symptoms within 10 days of the infusion, cannot be receiving oxygen or for chronic users of oxygen they cannot be needing more of it, children must be older than 12 and weigh more than 40 kg, the person cannot be in the hospital currently and they must have a health condition that places them at higher risk for severe symptoms or be older than 65 years of age.
“As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart failure, are at very high risk of hospitalization and death,” said Anderson. “And this antibody treatment is really helping those people.”
Anderson says the treatments results at Aspirus showed that only 4% of those who received the treatment required hospitalization. At least 48 hospital admissions were prevented because of the treatment based on the 17-20% hospitalization rate expected for this population.
“Admissions to the hospital because the healthcare system has been so overwhelmed is very important,” said Anderson.
The treatment initially was available in November at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, but has since been expanded to be available in the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin Rapids and Portage.
“I think we’ve all seen pictures of the coronavirus on the news, if we look we see there’s little spikes on the coronavirus and the antibody treatment is actually a manmade antibody that binds to those spikes and then prevents it from entering the cells and infecting them,” said Anderson.
In the cases of COVID-19 variants, treatment options may vary.
“Right now we have three antibody treatments, the article I just read yesterday shows that those three treatments are still effective against the U.K. variant but the article that was put out by the FDA yesterday shows that two of our treatments are now resistant, the Brazilian and the South African strains are resistant to two of our treatments,” said Anderson.
Anderson encourages everybody to continue to wear masks, practice good hygiene, social distance and take the vaccine once it is available to them.