As communities throughout the state and right here in northeast Nebraska continue to see significant increases in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Faith Regional Health Services is one of the hospitals across the nation receiving monoclonal antibody therapy drugs used for outpatient treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients. The drugs called bamlanivimab and casirivimab/imdevimab, have been issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the goal of this treatment to aid in the prevention of hospitalizations, which helps to alleviate the possibility of overwhelming our health systems.
The national supply of monoclonal antibody therapy drugs is limited and Faith Regional has begun receiving a weekly allocation from the federal government and the Nebraska Health and Human Services department. Due to the restricted supply at this time, Faith Regional, like other hospitals, has established high-risk treatment criteria for patients to receive the drug. The drug is authorized for patients with positive COVID-19 testing results who are 12 years of age and older, weighing at least 88 pounds, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. These high-risk patients that meet the established criteria at Faith Regional include those with active cancer, transplant recipients, COPD with baseline oxygen requirements, diabetes mellitus, history of cancer, complex medical conditions like dialysis, and other immunocompromised conditions.
The antibody treatments must be given shortly after a patient tests positive, within 10 days of symptom onset, and before severe symptoms begin. The antibody treatments are not a cure for COVID-19; instead, they work to reduce the amount of virus in a person's body. The drug is administered via an IV infusion and only requires one dose. If given early enough in the course of the disease, this treatment could prevent patients from progressing to the point of hospitalization. If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and fit the criteria, talk to your health care provider about prescribing a one-time infusion.
“These antibody therapies can serve a dual purpose,” said Dr. Mark Davis, Chief Medical Officer at Faith Regional. “They can reduce the severity of the COVID-19 illness and reduce the chance that you may need to be hospitalized for COVID-19 helping to maintain hospital capacity and resources, including staffing. The IV infusion takes about 3 hours and is well tolerated. Please contact your healthcare provider if you meet the criteria.”
As treatment options become more readily available and the potential for a vaccine is on the horizon, we encourage community members to remain vigilant in their cooperation to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask in public, practicing social distancing, avoiding large crowds and gatherings, and washing your hands frequently. These practices when combined have proven to be the most effective in slowing the spread and helping to keep our hospitals and staff from becoming overwhelmed.
For the latest on Coronavirus (COVID-19), we recommend visiting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site and/or the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department web site.