LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The battle for Nevada lives rages on for doctors but there a new tool available at Southern Hills Hospital which is showing promising signs for treating people afflicted with COVID-19.
Bamlanivimab is a new, monoclonal antibody treatment that recently received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The medication is one of several new therapies, some referred to as COVID antibody cocktails, which have been touted by doctors and even President Donald Trump.
"Our newest drug is Bamlanivimab, which we just like to say 'Bam' because it's a lot easier to say," said Dr. Domenic Martinello, Chief Medical Officer at Southern Hills Hospital.
The drug, Dr. Martinello says, is helping those who are at an increased risk of developing moderate to severe symptoms of COVID-19.
"Patients who have comorbidities, or conditions, or patients over 65, diabetic, people with severe lung disease," explained Dr. Martinello. "There's a list of criteria."
According to the FDA:
- This EUA is for the use of the unapproved product Bamlanivimab for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kg) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization
- High risk is defined as patients who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35
- Have chronic kidney disease
- Have diabetes
- Have immunosuppressive disease
- Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Are older than 65 years of age
- Are older than 55 years of age AND have
- cardiovascular disease, OR
- hypertension, OR
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/other chronic respiratory diseases.
- Are 12 – 17 years of age AND have
- BMI ≥85th percentile for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts, OR
- sickle cell disease, OR
- congenital or acquired heart disease, OR
- neurodevelopmental disorders, 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 diseases that requires daily medication for control.
Martinello says this subsection of patients who have COVID-19 usually arrive at the hospital through the emergency room.
From there, the patients are given medical screening and if they meet the criteria they are given the drug through an IV.
The medicine helps the body fight off the infection.
More than 120 doses have been given as of Tuesday and Martinello says it has cut hospital admissions by double digits.
"Their duration [of symptoms] has been shorter, has been more mild," said Dr. Martinello.
"It's not to say that it's perfect, it's not a cure-all but it's reduced the risk of ending up in the hospital on a ventilator which in the middle of a pandemic, quite literally, every person we don't have to admit to the hospital with severe disease leaves a bed open for somebody who does develop symptoms of severe disease and needs it," added Dr. Martinello.
In late December, 13 Investigates reported more monoclonal antibody treatments were available at ER at Blue Diamond.
The cocktails include one made by Regeneron, another by Eli Lilly.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says the treatments can be very effective.
"Monoclonal antibody is taking one of those B cells and cloning it so that it starts producing in massive amounts an antibody against very, very specific components of the virus," explained Dr. Fauci.
13 Investigates has learned there is no cost for the monoclonal antibody drug, as long as it is classified under the Emergency Use Authorization.
There are, however, costs associated with care received at the hospital.