OSF HealthCare touting new treatment for COVID-19

WGIL 93.7 FM & 1400 AM

In an effort to prevent COVID-19 hospital admissions, OSF HealthCare is now offering a cutting edge monoclonal immunotherapy infusion.

Bamlanivimab, or BAM, is approved for high-risk adult and pediatric COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The laboratory-made antibody mimics a naturally occurring one, which is known to fight off the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Mark Meeker, Vice President of Physician Services for OSF, explains how it’s created. “BAM is a monoclonal antibody, and what that is is antibodies are a protein that our body makes to fight foreign invaders. So we isolate this antibody that we know fights the COVID virus, and we’re able to reproduce it in the lab and then use it to treat patients as though they made the antibody themselves.”

The Eli Lilly drug received an emergency use authorization – knows as a EUA – by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has issued many EUAs for tests and treatments. BAM proved to be promising enough to make it through the EUA approval process.

BAM is now being administered in specially designated outpatient infusion sites throughout the OSF HealthCare Ministry, including in Galesburg. Supplies of the treatment are limited.

Patients who qualify for BAM have been found to be at high risk for severe COVID19 illness and might need hospitalization if untreated. BAM is most effective when given early, and needs to be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. BAM is not intended for routine use in the management of COVID-19 and is not approved for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

OSF’s Vice President of Clinical Specialty Services Dr. Brian Curtis hopes to see a drop in the hospitalizations of high-risk individuals. “My hope is that we see a drop in hospitalization within these high-risk categories. The general population overall doesn’t have a high risk of being admitted to the hospital. The categories that the EUA has selected are the patients that we have seen historically over the last eight months have a higher risk of having a bad outcome from COVID, having a more prolonged course, and getting admitted to the hospital. And so that’s why we’re targeting this population, not a general population.”

Qualifying patients need to be at least 12 years old and weigh 88 pounds. Adult patients must be 65 or older or have another risk factor, including:

Body mass index (BMI) greater than 35
Chronic kidney disease
Immunosuppressive disease
Immunosuppressive treatment

Patients 55 and older with heart disease, lung disease, or who are undergoing immunosuppressive treatment also qualify for BAM. The qualifications for pediatric COVID-19 patients over the age of 12 include:

Body mass index (BMI) above the 85th percentile for age
Sickle cell disease
Cardiovascular disease
Neurodevelopmental disease
Use of a medical dependent device

If you are COVID-19 positive and want to know if BAM is available to you, contact your primary care physician.

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