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New weapon against COVID-19 ready for patients at Fitzgibbon Hospital

January 06, 2021

The exciting news about Covid-19 vaccine administration in the State of Missouri could be somewhat tempered, as members of the general public wonder when they may be eligible to receive their inoculation. Although the vaccine rollout is currently limited by the state to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, there is good news in the fight against Covid-19 disease. Two different monoclonal antibody treatments - for mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms in adults - are in supply at Fitzgibbon Hospital.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorizations for these treatments in November 2020. The medications are known as Regeneron (a combination of the drugs casirivimab and imdevimab); and a second drug, bamlanivimab. Both of these experimental treatments offered promising results during clinical trials, according to the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. Patients receive the drugs via IV as an outpatient after referral from a physician. Monoclonal antibodies are targeted for the most at-risk patients and should be administered within 10 days of a positive Covid-19 test or the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.

“We are pleased to be among the few hospitals in the outstate area with the capacity to administer these treatments,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “Our team – from the pharmacy to nursing to our medical staff – have worked to develop our protocols for administration with the utmost patient and staff safety in mind. Although mass-vaccination of the general public may be weeks away, we are so happy to have yet another weapon in the fight against Covid to offer our community.”

In clinical trials, these therapies were shown to reduce Covid-19 related hospitalizations or visits to the emergency room in patients who were otherwise at highest risk for progression into severe Covid-19 illness or hospitalization. These therapies are not for patients who already are hospitalized or for those requiring oxygen therapy.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful substances like viruses. These two recently-approved therapies specifically target the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, also referred to as Covid-19. Scientists believe these monoclonal antibodies block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells.

The Emergency Use Authorization identifies qualifying adults that include the following:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 or greater
  • Have chronic kidney disease
  • Have diabetes
  • Have immunosuppressive disease
  • Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
  • Are at least 65 years or older
  • Are at least 55 years old and have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or COPD/chronic respiratory disease.

Patients must be referred by their provider for either of these monoclonal antibody treatments, which can be given to outpatients as scheduled after 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.