Increased demand for monoclonal antibody treatment in Amarillo as COVID-19 cases rise

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo hospitals are trying to prevent people from being hospitalized early on with monoclonal antibody treatment.

“This is the outpatient antibodies that we’re using to try to try to prevent someone from being hospitalized early on,” said Northwest Texas Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis.

That antibody is Regeneron, which received emergency use authorization from the FDA.

“The Regeneron, as well as all these other monoclonal antibodies, [are] really meant for people at higher risk for getting sick from the virus,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Weis said that group includes the elderly and people with a lot of medical problems.

But there has been a change on who can receive it.

“The FDA loosened the requirements to receive Regeneron,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Weis said that now you do not necessarily have to test positive for the virus before getting the treatment, but you must have had a high-risk exposure.

According to the FDA, REGEN-COV may only be used as post-exposure prophylaxis for adults and pediatric individuals (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kg) who are:

  • at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and
  • not fully vaccinated or who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response to complete SARS-CoV-2 vaccination (for example, people with immunocompromising conditions, including those taking immunosuppressive medications), and
    • have been exposed to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 consistent with close contact criteria per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or
    • who are at high risk of exposure to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 because of occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in other individuals in the same institutional setting (for example, nursing homes or prisons)

“As Dr. Weis mentioned, we’re giving lots of Regeneron,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, the chief medical officer at BSA.

Dr. Lamanteer said they are seeing high demand. He said their highest month of infusions was in January, giving around 160 treatments of another monoclonal antibody.

“In August, through half of the month, we have just about caught that number. We were in the high 100 and 50s, a number of infusions: 158,” said Dr. Lamanteer. “So in just about two weeks, we’ve almost caught up to our entire month of January’s infusions, which was our worst month since the outset of the pandemic.”

“If you think that you may qualify for that and are positive for COVID-19, please contact your physician and they can help get you to either us, or BSA, or any other sites where Regeneron is being used to hopefully try to give you that infusion and prevent you from getting sick,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Weis said you will have to complete a questionnaire to make sure you are eligible for the infusion.

The FDA said this infusion is not a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19, saying, ” [The] FDA has authorized three vaccines to prevent COVID-19 and serious clinical outcomes caused by COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. [The] FDA urges you to get vaccinated, if you are eligible.”

Dr. Lamanteer said when you get the therapy, there is a significant impact on preventing hospitalization and maybe saving your life because you avoid severe infection.

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