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Monoclonal antibody treatment can help some COVID-19-positive patients

intravenous catheter

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kathryn Burke, a medical technician with the 130th Medical Group at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, Charleston, West Virginia, inserts an intravenous catheter into the arm of a fellow nurse as practice prior to using a catheter on a patient in the emergency room at Bassett Army Community Hospital, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Aug. 21, 2017.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas --

Brooke Army Medical Center doctors at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston are working with the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council to help COVID-19 patients receive the monoclonal antibody treatment and potentially lessen the severity of the illness.

Some early evidence suggests monoclonal antibody treatment can reduce the amount of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, in a person's system. This means the patient may have milder symptoms thereby decreasing the likelihood of being hospitalized.

“The goal of this treatment is to halt the progression of COVID, and to hopefully prevent inpatient admission,” said Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Joseph Yabes Jr., infectious disease physician. “Overall, people have had good responses to this therapy.”

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced molecules engineered to serve as substitute antibodies that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system's attack on cells. Combination Casirivimab and Imdevimab, a monoclonal antibody, is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, helping to neutralize the virus.

The treatment involves IV infusion of investigational antibody medications that are not Food and Drug Administration-approved but are authorized under an FDA emergency use authorization.

The treatment can be given to patients12 years and older who weigh at least 88 pounds. However, the most benefit from this treatment has been seen in patients who are more than 65 years old and those with a body mass index over 35, explained Yabes.

“People who are immunocompromised, diabetic, or people who are age 55 with hypertension or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) may also benefit from this therapy,” Yabes said.

A primary care manager must refer the patient to the BAMC Infectious Disease Clinic to see if they qualify for the treatment.

“If they meet the criteria, someone from the Infectious Disease Clinic will contact the patient to see if they are interested in receiving the treatment,” Yabes said. “If they want to receive the treatment, we will fill out the referral and submit it to STRAC.”

Once the patient is referred, they will be contacted and the treatment will be administered by medical staff at their residence or a designated location.

“Within 72 hours after the treatment, the patient will need to have a follow-up appointment with their PCM just to make sure they are OK,” Yabes said.

If people have questions about monoclonal antibody infusion, they can call 1-800-742-5990 or visit https://strac.org/ric.