DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Doctors with Premier Health say they will soon be able to provide Eli Lilly’s antibody therapy to some COVID-19 patients.
The monoclonal antibody treatment, Bamlanivimab, is administered through a single infusion to patients experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, according to Dr. Roberto Colon, associate chief medical officer for Miami Valley Hospital.
The treatment is similar to the antibody cocktail from Regeneron that President Trump received following his COVID-19 diagnosis in October, Dr. Colon said.
The goal behind the treatment is to prevent patients’ symptoms from worsening so they do not wind up in the hospital, he added.
As hospitals continue to treat increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19, nurses have seen firsthand how the virus can take a toll on the body.
“It could be pretty bad,” said Angie Holdren, a hospital nurse whose husband has survived COVID-19. “One patient, he was still on a vent. I was suctioning blood out of his trach.”
Doctors are hopeful antibody treatments could help some patients avoid a worse outcome.
Bamlanivimab received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, and it’s still an experimental treatment, Dr. Colon said.
“‘Cautiously optimistic’ is a phrase we like to use with any new therapeutic option,” he said.
The treatment is administered under a doctor’s order within the first seven days of the illness to patients who are not hospitalized, Dr. Colon said.
Since the antibody therapy remains in short supply, Premier Health is limiting the treatment to patients age 55 and over with comorbidities and anyone with COVID-19 over age 65, according to Dr. Colon.
“It’s around a two-hour process, and there’s going to be some additional time for check-in and preparation to be able to complete this infusion as an outpatient, and that’s it,” he said. “It’s a one-time treatment.”
The antibody treatment is meant to reduce symptoms of COVID-19, but it’s not a cure, Dr. Colon explained. That means anyone who receives it can still spread the virus, he added.
“You still have to wear the mask,” Dr. Colon said. “You still have to isolate. You still have got to maintain your social distancing.”
Antibodies have also been transfused into patients through convalescent plasma donated by people that have recovered from COVID-19.
Although antibody treatments like Bamlanivimab are being produced, doctors still need COVID-19 survivors to donate their plasma, Dr. Colon said, especially as antibody therapies remain in limited supply.