Antibody infusions prevent COVID patients from overwhelming hospitals


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Local health leaders said Regeneron antibody treatments have kept people with COVID-19 out of hospitals in recent months.

Amarillo Public Health Authority, Dr. Todd Bell, said during the city’s COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday infusions have helped in the fight against the Delta variant.

“The infusions that have already been given over the past two months, have really been the difference, I think in preventing this from overwhelming the hospital system,” said Dr. Bell. “If those patients who have received those infusions had ended up in the hospital, I think that might have pushed us over the edge.”

BSA Health System’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Lamanteer said they are being vigorous with Regeneron infusions in their outpatient settings. He said in August, they administered 466 infusions, primarily through BSA’s urgent care center. Through the first 13 days of September, he said they infused 263 additional COVID patients.

“The team has done an outstanding job there of infusing patients, and I’m certain preventing many hospitalizations in the high-risk categories,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

Northwest Texas Healthcare System’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis, said treating 20 people with Regeron to prevent one hospitalization is a low number, relative to most medicine.

“A lot of therapies we do, the number needed to treat is hundreds to get one beneficial effect. So, this is actually a very productive intervention,” Dr. Weis said. “And the thing is, you know, just like last week, we got down to one ventilator left. Well, preventing one hospitalization, one ICU makes a big difference. So, this is a very effective intervention.”

Dr. Lamanteer said when studies were originally done on monoclonal antibodies, Delta was not the causative strain. He said we no it is far more transmissible and virulent, causing severe infection.

“So, the question is, is that number needed to treat to prevent a hospitalization potentially lower? I would argue that that is a possibility,” Dr. Lamanteer said. “Either way, what we aren’t seeing is the following: people that are who have received Regeneron, who are infected, who have lots of risk factors, meaning high risk for a severe course, showing up in the hospital a week later and needing to be hospitalized.”

He continued, “So again, more anecdotal experience, going back to say along with the evidence we already had beforehand in the trials, that the drug is working.”

Officials with the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the Texas Division of Emergency Management will launch a new COVID-19 therapeutic infusion center in Amarillo on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 808 S. Johnson St.

“Drug inventory is really the issue now, for all of us. In terms of some of the restricted allocation, we are going to do whatever we can to support the city clinic so that we can see more patients getting infused more quickly and not have delays,” said Dr. Lamanteer, noting the public health department has shared Regeneron doses generously.

Dr. Weis said, “We really appreciate you know, the city for setting this up for us.”

Dr. Bell said with the new infusion center opening, it should be easier to get the drug to those in need.

“I would encourage people…that if they have a positive test, they’re in a risk category that would benefit from the infusion, talk to your doctor about it, locate one of these places,” said Dr. Bell.

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