HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – As COVID-19 vaccination efforts ramp up, so do ways of treating the virus.
The FDA recently authorized emergency use of a new antibody treatment in high-risk patients who have mild to moderate symptoms.
Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company performed a clinical trial on the experimental treatment.
Dr. Janell Sabo, the COVID-19 therapeutics platform leader for Eli Lilly, said the therapy combines both bamlanivimab and etesevimab drugs to help treat the disease.
“This is another important tool in the tool kit for the healthcare professionals in your area to use to treat patients who have active infection,” she said.
Data from the pharmaceutical company showed the treatment, when given within 10 days of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 87%.
Sabo said the need for the therapies is critical even as cases continue to decrease.
“It’s an important option people need to be talking about,” she said. “Today, still only one in six are actually getting treated in this high-risk population, which means five out of six are still at that risk of hospitalization, emergency room visits, needing to go to their doctor’s office and potentially also death as an outcome.”
The antibodies, according to Sabo, are lab-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off the virus.
“Monoclonal antibodies that are called neutralizing antibodies are infused over 16 to 21 minutes,” Sabo said. “Typically, this is done in a healthcare facility known as an infusion center.”
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters are two of several locations that administer the therapy. Other infusion centers can be found at combatcovid.hhs.gov.
Sabo said the treatment is free but might not be for everyone.
“I think this is a really important treatment option, but it’s also a personal decision; it’s one between you and your healthcare professional,” she said. “What I really encourage people is to have conversation with their physician because they’re best positioned to know your medical condition to know if it makes sense for you.”