New COVID treatment: TidalHealth will offer drug Bamlanivimab

BERLIN — Starting Dec. 1, TidalHealth became a regional referral site for the administration of a new COVID-19 treatment that drew attention when it was used to treat COVID-19 in President Donald Trump.

Bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody produced by Eli Lilly & Co., was granted emergency use authorization by the Food & Drug Administration on Nov. 9. Only six hospitals in Maryland are in the first wave of facilities authorized to use the drug, and TidalHealth is the first site on the Eastern Shore.

Not every patient with a positive COVID-19 test will be eligible to receive the drug. Patients should be referred by their doctor, as it will only be given to those who are determined to be at high risk and are good candidates. People who are already hospitalized cannot receive the drug, as it has not been shown to benefit these patients. It is also not for children under the age of 12.

“The drug isn’t for people who are already hospitalized – it is used for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and may be at risk for their case to become more severe because of other health factors such as age, diabetes or a compromised immune system,” Senior Director of Pharmacy Services TidalHealth John Jordan, PharmD, BCPS said. “We are working hard to be able to bring this treatment to patients on the Delmarva Peninsula.”

Bamlanivimab should be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 test and within 10 days of symptom onset. It is administered via a single intravenous infusion.
The treatment is a lab-created protein that mimics immune system antibodies that block viruses. By blocking viral attachment and entry into human cells, it helps to neutralize the virus. This ability to limit viral replication makes it helpful for those at risk for developing severe symptoms. Those wishing to learn more about bamlanivimab may visit fda.gov.

“It is designed to prevent the progression of COVID-19 to a more severe state in those who have significant risk factors, so we won’t be treating everyone with it – the criteria are specific, and a doctor’s referral is required,” the hospital’s Communications Director Gwenn Garland said. “But we are hopeful this may keep some people safe who might otherwise have ended up in our hospitals.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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