UPMC continues to promote monoclonal antibody therapy, delivering it to 5,700 patients, including 2,300 in the past month, amid the proliferation of COVID-19.
Most people with COVID-19 symptoms, if given early enough, will not get sick enough to enter the hospital, UPMC doctors said this week.
“We have found them to be very safe and very effective,” said Dr. Derek Angus, Chief Innovation Officer at UPMC and Chairman of the School of Critical Care Medicine.
Treatment includes a single intravenous injection of a laboratory-made antibody similar to what the body makes if it is immune to COVID-19. These antibodies interfere with the ability of the virus to invade cells, spread rapidly, and cause great harm to the entire body.
The federal government provides healthcare providers with free monoclonal antibody therapy. According to UPMC doctors, the additional cost of intravenous administration and monitoring of side effects usually takes a total of about 2 hours and is covered by health insurance.
Monoclonal antibody therapy should be given within 10 days of a positive or symptomatic COVID-19 test.
Doctors say that a patient who becomes so ill that he or she needs to be hospitalized does not benefit.
According to Angus, about 70% of UPMC patients receiving monoclonal antibodies did not require hospitalization.
He said the negative side effects are “very, very rare”.
It can be used for patients up to 12 years.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is being facilitated by a program called Operation Warp Speed under former President Donald Trump, now known as the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
According to Angus, it wasn’t widely used throughout the United States as of February, so UPMC tried to change it.
UPMC is currently offering it to patients in multiple locations, including the Harrisburg Area. Penn State Health and Geisinger are one of the other healthcare systems that offer it, and Penn State Health offers it to hundreds of patients in nursing homes.
Mr. Trump received monoclonal antibody treatment after being infected with COVID-19 last fall. Most recently, Texas Governor Greg Abbott received it as a precautionary measure after it tested positive. Joe Rogan, a popular podcaster, said it was one of the barrages of treatment that monoclonal antibodies received after being recently infected with COVID-19. Rogan has resumed podcasting and has clearly recovered.
UPMC doctors emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine remains the best preventative measure for the disease and prevents people from reaching the stage where treatments such as monoclonal antibodies should be considered.
Dr. John Williams, an expert on pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC, likened monoclonal antibodies to “some bullets.”
But “it’s much harder to escape the swarm of antibodies from the vaccine. It’s like a shotgun blast, and all vaccines are very effective against deltas and other variants.”
UPMC also participates in a global exam called REMAP. This trial uses relatively new clinical trial methods to test new treatments and drugs. REMAP uses data and software to test treatment combinations, allow ineffective treatments to be discontinued, and enable more patients to receive more of the most effective treatments. increase. This allows COVID-19 patients to receive a “recipe” of treatment and the software can help determine which is benefiting.
Angus, for example, said the REMAP trial “helped resolve the argument that hydroxychloroquine simply didn’t work.”
On the other hand, cheap steroids have been found to help patients with severe COVID-19 and anticoagulants can help patients with moderate illness.
“It helped us learn how to best care for COVID-19 patients at unprecedented speed,” Angus said.
According to Angus, the mortality rate for people hospitalized for COVID-19 has fallen by 5% per month.
Recently, there has been much talk about the possible benefits of ivermectin for treating COVID-19, especially on social media and politically conservative circles.
Ivermectin is commonly used to prevent or control livestock worms. However, it has also been successfully used to treat some parasitic conditions and infections in humans, especially in Third World countries.
Some studies claim to benefit from treating patients with COVID-19 with ivermectin. However, the largest of them have recently been withdrawn due to method issues and possible ethical revocation. The US Food and Drug Administration recently warned against self-medication with ivermectin.
Angus was asked if ivermectin is one of the treatments being tested through REMAP’s efforts.
“There was already one fairly large and compelling trial that did not show the benefits of ivermectin,” he said.
He said several groups involved in REMAP’s efforts are discussing the assessment of ivermectin.
“But in general, I don’t think we, like most other scientific organizations, are adopting ivermectin as the recommended treatment,” Angus said.
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