Antibody doses for high-risk COVID cases | Daily News

Antibody doses for high-risk COVID cases

Tens of thousands of high-risk Israelis can now get an antibody treatment as hospital outpatients as soon as they are diagnosed with COVID-19, in the hope that it will prevent deterioration to serious illness.

The Health Ministry has a supply of thousands of doses of the US-made Bamlanivimab, which is intended specifically for non-serious patients. It has started distributing them to doctors, who are now offering the two-hour infusion-based treatment to outpatients in certain high-risk categories who test positive for the virus.

Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center became the first institution to start giving the treatment on Monday, administering it to four outpatients, and other hospitals are expected to follow.

Bamlanivimab is composed of monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens including viruses.

“We hope to see this treatment changing the course of illness, and preventing people from deteriorating,” Hadassah director-general Zeev Rotstein told The Times of Israel. “We want, ideally, to administer it before people have symptoms or while symptoms are still light — the earlier the better.

“We know that if we give it it widely, for some people it will be in vain, but we think it can prevent many from getting sicker,” he said. “It is believed to slow the growth of the virus and reduce the chances of serious illness.”

Ian Miskin, an infectious diseases doctor who heads coronavirus care for the Clalit healthcare provider, was more circumspect. He told The Times of Israel that his doctors will refer patients for the treatment at Hadassah — and possibly other hospitals in due course — but is reserving judgment about its performance. “It’s not a magic bullet,” he said, adding that while the extent of its benefits are still unclear, it “doesn’t do any harm.” The FDA reported that while the safety and effectiveness of the drug were still being evaluated, it had been seen to “reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression within 28 days after treatment when compared to a placebo.”

Hadassah’s Ein Kerem campus is offering the treatment to COVID-positive patients who arrive by ambulance arranged by their healthcare provider, as required by virus isolation rules, and who are on immunosuppressive drugs, chemotherapy, dialysis, or who have had organ transplants or who take medications or inhalers for lung disease.

It is primarily intended for residents of the Jerusalem area, but if healthcare providers offer to bring people from other areas in Israel, they will be accepted.

Rotstein said he has high hopes for the antibodies, but stressed: “This treatment does not take the place of vaccines.”

(Times of Israel)