NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT)– More than 40 Tri-State COVID-19 patients have received an infusion of monoclonal antibodies to keep them from getting extremely ill. There is a limited supply of this treatment. Deaconess is deciding who qualifies for the treatment as positive test results come in.
Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody treatment is given through an I.V. to help neutralize the virus. It’s not given to patients currently in the hospital. The treatment is for high risk patients who have tested positive and have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
“We do like to give this treatment as early in the process as possible because it’s more effective. Ideally, when given this treatment it’s designed to help keep people from getting worse. Hopefully they get better faster and hopefully they avoid hospitalization,” said Dr. Gina Huhnke. She said Deaconess is asking patients more questions when they go in for COVID-19 testing. “If you go through one of our drive through sites, your COVID test is positive, you’ll automatically be screened for these risk factors and if you qualify we will contact you.”
Dr. Huhnke said this is something they have been doing every day since receiving the monoclonal antibodies on Friday. So far they have more than 40 patients who have received the infusion at Deaconess Infusion Center.
“Most of these patients that we are giving this medication to are greater than age 65, also have other chronic medical conditions including diabetes, chronic kidney disease, immune oppressed states, or over weight,” Dr. Huhnke explained.
“I think it’s been a game changer and it’s sped up my recovery and frankly I think it’s kept me from getting some of the pulmonary and respiratory problems that I otherwise could have gotten,” said Dr. David Schultz.
It’s been a week since dr. Schultz received his infusion of monoclonal antibodies. He is the principal investigator for this treatment, and now he’s on the mend recovering from COVID-19.
“Now my body’s immune system has taken over to develop it’s own antibody response against it’s covid-19 infection to give me some immunity over the next couple of months,” said Schultz.
The federal government purchased at least 300,000 vials so far. Deaconess received 180 doses on Friday and will not be charging patients for the drug, but they will be charged for the treatment itself.
(This story was originally published on November 18, 2020)