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I want to let people know of a new therapy available at Scotland County Hospital for early treatment of Covid-19 which is making a big difference in outcomes and limiting the number of people who need to be hospitalized for worsening symptoms and a deteriorating condition.
I recently had the misfortune to become infected with Covid. When I was given my positive test result, staff at Scotland County Hospital’s Acute Care Clinic advised me of the availability of a monoclonal antibody, Bamlanivimab (which we call Bam Bam). Bam Bam has emergency use authorization (EUA) for use from the FDA after phase 2 trials show benefit for outpatients. The available research suggests a 70% lower chance of landing in the hospital with severe disease when it is given as soon as possible after diagnosis in outpatients with early symptoms. There is a similar, two-antibody product with similar effectiveness data available as well, and our facility uses the two available products interchangeably.
Admittedly, I only had mild symptoms at the time, but agreed to try it due to my history of asthma. I felt like I was over-reacting as I didn’t feel that sick, but agreed to go in later that day to get this treatment. It is a one hour IV infusion at the hospital, and then you stay for another hour of observation to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
During that afternoon and evening, my Covid-19 symptoms started to worsen, along with a flare in my asthma. By night time I knew if I didn’t get my asthma under control in the next day, I would probably end up hospitalized, as the Covid-19 hit me with a vengeance. When I woke up in the middle of the night from a napping episode, I realized my symptoms were resolving. At 12 hours post infusion treatment, my cough had calmed down and my breathing was better, my nose was no longer running, a lot of the aches had disappeared, and even the fatigue was partly resolved. It was very impressive. This treatment was remarkable with my symptoms. I actually felt about 90% improved from earlier in the evening. This improvement continued for the next couple of days, with me only having minor cold symptoms during this illness.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses. Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody that is specifically directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, designed to block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells. Monoclonal antibodies are only approved for outpatient use, not for hospitalized patients because they are not shown to be effective at that point. FDA recommends it be given within 7 days of symptom onset for the best effect, the earlier the better (think influenza and Tamiflu). Anyone with a positive Covid test who has diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, or obesity (BMI more than 35), or age more than 65 is a candidate. If you are 55 and have heart disease, hypertension, COPD, or asthma you are also a candidate. There are a few other indications, and you should talk to your doctor to find out if you are a candidate.
Several hospitals across the country are not taking advantage of this new therapy, but in talking with our medical staff, we have some great results (other than my own personal result) in keeping people out of the hospital, and with milder symptoms. I would highly recommend that anyone with Covid-19 who has some of the above risk factors, to consider this new treatment option (Bam Bam) to prevent the serious side effects and/or hospitalization.
Dr. Celeste Miller-Parish
Chief of Staff,
Scotland County Hospital & Clinics