Bamlanivimab, a popular COVID-19 treatment, is proving to be less effective against the delta variant, and physicians at Norton Healthcare have responded by shifting to Regeneron, treating nearly 100 patients daily.
Bamlanivimab, a popular COVID-19 treatment, is proving to be less effective against the delta variant and physicians at Norton Healthcare have responded by shifting to Regeneron, treating nearly 100 patients daily.
Patients are seen within hours of their primary care physician ordering the treatment. A dedicated team of infusionists downtown and on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus are equipped to isolate the patients and deliver the medication while protecting themselves and others, according to Joseph M. Flynn, D.O., MPH, FACP, chief administrative officer, Norton Medical Group, and physician-in-chief, Norton Cancer Institute.
The Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment is a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab and has been granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to treat those who have COVID-19 symptoms and are at high risk of severe illness. The medication also can be used to treat those who aren’t vaccinated, have been exposed and are at high risk for severe illness.
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Much like bamlanivimab earlier in the pandemic, Regeneron is helping keep people from getting so sick that they need to be admitted to the hospital. Regeneron is approved for adults and children ages 12 and older who weigh at least 40 kilograms (just more than 88 pounds). Regeneron reduces negative effects of COVID-19 by 83% to 90%, according to Dr. Flynn.
While these treatments are showing results, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, wear a mask, maintain a safe distance from others and practice good hand hygiene.
“Monoclonal antibodies speed up the body’s ability to fight off infections by jump-starting the presence of COVID-19-specific antibodies,” Dr. Flynn said. “Protection lasts for several weeks, and it’s very useful for those who may have had an organ transplant or are immunocompromised.”
Patients must have a recent positive COVID-19 PCR test and a physician’s referral to receive the treatment. Once a patient’s physician orders a Regeneron infusion, the Norton Healthcare team calls the patient to schedule the procedure either for that day or the next morning.
Patients who are sick with COVID-19 start showing signs of improvement two to four days after the Regeneron infusion, according to Dr. Flynn, who has been the principal investigator on COVID-19 clinical trials testing the effectiveness of Regeneron with volunteers. He described side effects as fairly mild and short-term.
“This treatment is highly effective at keeping patients from developing severe disease, but it does not replace vaccination against COVID-19 in the first place,” Dr. Flynn said.