LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A recently approved antibody therapy in the fight against COVID-19 is now available at hospitals within the Valley Health System including ER at Blue Diamond.
It's called a monoclonal antibody therapy, one made by Regeneron and another by Eli Lilly.
"For about every 10 people we treat, we prevent one of these high-risk patients from being hospitalized," said Dr. Patrick Olivieri, medical director at ER at Blue Diamond.
Olivieri says the treatment is given intravenous and has shown to reduce the symptoms of COVID-19.
"The people that get the most benefit from this are high-risk patients over 65, diabetic patients, patients that are overweight, having a high [body mass index] above 35, and some other qualifiers like people with respiratory disease or heart disease," explained Olivieri.
In October, the Regeneron antibody cocktail grabbed headlines after President Trump received the treatment while hospitalized for COVID-19 concerns.
At the time, the treatment was considered experimental.
In November, the Food and Drug Administration granted use of the therapy.
"Monoclonal antibody is taking one of those B cells and cloning it so that it starts producing in massive amounts an antibody against a very, very specific components of the virus," explained Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert with the National Institutes of Health.
Olivieri says the therapies are a game changer by reducing hospital stays and even deaths connected to COVID-19.
"Spring Valley and Blue Diamond have done such a good job putting the protocol in place not only has it been used safely, no bad reactions, not a single patient we've given it to out all of these are high-risk patients has ever had to be admitted [to the hospital]" said Olivieri.
There are some strict criteria patients have to meet in order to receive the treatment:
- Have and show a documented positive COVID-19 test that can be scanned or included in the medical chart
- Have a high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19
- Not require any additional interventions, such as oxygen therapy or hospitalization
- Meet certain high-risk criteria* to qualify for the treatment
*The FDA defines high risk as patients who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) ≥35
- Have chronic kidney disease
- Have diabetes
- Have immunosuppressive disease
- Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Are ≥65 years of age
- Are ≥55 years of age AND have cardiovascular disease, or hypertension, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/other chronic respiratory disease
- Are 12 – 17 years of age AND have a BMI ≥85th percentile for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts; OR have a sickle cell disease; OR a congenital or acquired heart disease; OR a neurodevelopmental disorder, for example, cerebral palsy; OR a medical-related technological dependence, for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID-19); OR asthma, reactive airway or other chronic respiratory disease that requires daily medication for control.
It is unclear how much of the treatment cost by insurance and it is recommended to check into pricing before receiving treatment.